Donor Family Stories

Donor Family Stories

Donor Family Stories
Name of the donor: Sachin Nehete.
Age at the time of death: 19 years
Donor Family: Mrs. Bharati Nehete (mother) and
Mr. Purshottam Nehete (father)
Background: Sachin was a nineteen year old engineering student. The eldest son of his parents, Sachin met with an accident while riding a bike. He was declared brain dead by the doctors and his parents decided to give all his organs for donation.
What happened that day?
Our son Sachin was an engineering student in Mumbai. He met up with a road accident riding pillion with his friend who was dropping him. He was first taken to the Bhaba hospital and then moved to Hinduja Hospital.
The accident happened on 30th April 2003. He was kept at Hinduja Hospital for two days. On 2nd May 2003, the doctors declared that he was brain dead.
Our son was still on life support. However, the doctor had told us on the first day itself that he was no more. We hoped that there might be some improvement. We thought about it a lot during the night.
The next morning discussed, we were reluctant at first but then decided that our son may not be in this world anymore, but if someone else can get a life with his organs, then we should go ahead with it. It was like giving an opportunity to our son to live forever.
How was the news broken to you?
We did not know anything about brain death. We had heard about it, but did not what it was exactly. We did not know that brain death means only the brain stops working while the rest of the organs are fine. When the doctor told me that my son is no more, I could not believe it. He was still breathing. But the doctor said that my son was on life support and hence I felt that he was still breathing.
Harsha Deshmukh, a co-coordinator from Narmada Kidney Foundation, met us and informed us that we have the option of donating his organs to the people who need it, but it would be done only if we agree to it. She asked us to think about it making a decision. We decided to wait for one more day.
The doctor also said that I am a mother and if I want they would keep the life support on for as long as possible.
How were you approached to donate?
The coordinator, Harsha Deshmukh, had already talked to us. The doctor told us that our son is no more, but I said that my son may make some movement and wanted to wait. But the next day Ms. Deshmukh explained everything to me. She said that she feels for me though nothing could be done to save my son now, but I had the option to save other lives. She said that he was brain dead but all his organs were working fine and each one of them could be donated. Eventually, I agreed, as my son was also a person who liked to help people. She asked me to sign a form and I agreed to donate his eyes, kidneys, liver, pancreas and heart.
That is also the time when we realized that people do not know much about organ donation and transplantation. The next day the doctor said that there was no recipient available for his heart and pancreas because not everyone knew that they have to register to be eligible for organ transplantation. As the heart had to be transplanted within 15 hours after retrieval, it could not be used for transplantation.
What was the process that the hospital followed before declaring your son brain dead?
Several tests were done like CT scan, blood tests, kidney test, heart test, etc. A team of 4-5 specialists was present for the two days our son was in the ICU. The senior neurologist also happened to be available at this time and helped validate the brain death.
Was he admitted to Hinduja directly?
No, the police took him to Bhabha Hospital. But when his friend’s (who was with him on the bike) mother came, she took Sachin to the hospital along with her son. We were not acquainted then, but had known about his friend. His mother knew that we had to come from Bhayander and so she asked the doctors to begin Sachin’s treatment. So, they had done blood tests, CT scan and had started blood transfusion too, before we arrived.
Sachin did not have major injuries. The only injury was on the head, where the blood got clotted. When the hospital called, we did not know that he was so serious. We were only told that he had a fall and was unconscious. When we reached the hospital, it was almost 9:30 PM. His friend’s mother met us at the hospital. Her son was undergoing operation at that time. However, he had a heart failure after the surgery, and he too did not survive.
What was the process that you had to go through once you took the decision?
The coordinator had a form, which she filled while asking me some questions. After the form was filled, I was asked to sign it. That was all.
Do you think at this time of deciding and signing the papers, there could be anything done by the hospitals or the authorities that could make the process easier for you?
The people at the hospital helped us a lot. They provided good treatment, did whatever they could. After the organs were retrieved, all the doctors came to meet us. They wanted to meet the parents who had readily agreed to donate their son’s organs. Also, the hospital did not take any money from us.
However, we did face problems with the police. We waited there for almost two and half hours to just get a signature from the authorities to go ahead with organ donation. We wish that the local government bodies could be sensitized to cope with the issue of cadaver organ donation in a better way.
Did you have any apprehensions about donating the organs?
Yes, even though we agreed to the donation, I still had apprehensions, as to how everything would be done. I wondered how the body would look; whether it would be disfigured. But nothing of that sort happened. Everything was done very well.
Were there any organs you did not want to donate? (If yes) What were your reasons for that?
No. We did not have any such problem; only thing was that I wanted to know whether my son was really no more or whether there was still some chance of his survival.
In retrospect, do you think you would have done anything differently?
Yes, today even the tissues could be donated. I wish we had known it then; we would have definitely donated his tissues too.
How did you and the family cope when you had to leave your loved one, so that he/she could be taken for the retrieval of organs?
Initially, I was a little reluctant to sign as I was not sure if the doctors were telling us the complete truth, but we still agreed to it. Later, Narmada Kidney Foundation had called us for their Donor’s Day program. There a recipient, during his speech, revealed the date of his kidney transplant operation, and I knew that one of my son’s kidneys went to him. He seemed to be a powerful man and the first few thoughts that raced through our minds was whether the doctors had any bad intentions to make us give away our son’s organs. However, during his speech he said that he prays to God to give him such a death where he could donate the kidney that he received from someone else. That day, we realized the impact of our action in a way that we had not realized earlier. Interacting with the recipients, and their gratefulness towards families and donors such as my son, helped us comprehend the extent of the impact this had on so many lives.
Once the organs were retrieved, what procedure was followed??
After the organs were retrieved, the body was handed over to us. We did not face any problems with the hospital authorities.
Were you informed who the recipients of the organs were? Do you feel it is better to know?
We were not told whom the organs were donated to. However, after the transplantation was done, we got a call from the hospital informing us that the transplantation had gone well. One kidney went to a patient in Bombay Hospital and another to a patient in Hinduja itself.
Would you have liked to hear from the recipients?
No. I never felt like that. Also, I think even they are not told anything about the donor and their families. However, I would have liked to see the person who got his eyes. But I was denied that permission.
Losing a member of the family is always difficult; what are the memories most dear to you that you would like to share?
There are lots of memories of my son. He was tall and handsome. An engineering student, he was very hardworking, but very modest about his achievements. He scored 94% in his 12th exams, but he told me not to boast about it with my friends. He said there is not much value for 94% marks in the market. When he cleared his first year engineering exam, he told me that mom I have become an engineer because the first year is the most difficult and I am through it.
Sachin was very close to us; he used to share everything with us: what happened at college, about his friends, etc. The people in the society where we stayed earlier still remember him fondly. He was friendly and used to talk to everyone, irrespective of his or her age. We would say that he was a person who everyone liked.
How did you cope with your loss?
Yes, the loss was huge. We felt it was the end of everything. Almost for a year, we had well wishers, friends, and neighbors visiting us. In a lot of ways, the loss was insurmountable. Sachin’s younger brother would have to see this on our faces whenever we all were at home together – during our meals, talks, etc.
We also shifted within a year to a new complex, and we suggested him to go and spend more time outside, so that he does not get affected. However, this too was sensitive, as at this age he could have easily got into wrong company. As a result, we both started to go out in the complex more and that actually helped us bond with our younger son in a very good way. We also took a decision as to not pressure him in any area of his life, for example his academics. We wanted to cherish all the good times we could have with our child.
What was the support you received from the people around you at the time of your loss or the people who knew the donor?
We don’t have too many relatives, but we had a lot of help from society in general – friends and neighbors and even local leaders. Even the local Nagar Sevaks placed four hoardings across our town to talk about my son’s organ donation. There were articles and pictures of him in the newspapers as well as on the Internet. All this meant a lot. As a mother I was blessed and proud to be Sachin’s mother and his gift of life to others.
How do you promote organ donation now?
We distribute organ donor cards and whenever possible we talk about our experience at various events and I also talk about it to my students in school.