Few days ago I lost my paternal granduncle. He was 80+ years old. I was not too close to him but I had met him couple of times and he had certainly impacted my life in a positive way. He was truly a gem of a person. He had a very different style of speaking (Always helping but witty). He was active participant of RSS. I don’t know how many sacrifices he had done for his nation but all I know is he was a giver. He always thought of good about people. He would help people physically, mentally and by bringing smile to person he was speaking to. There used to be bursts of laughter around him. From past few weeks I heard he was not well. He had paralysis and he lost voice. He became like a doll in the bed. And now he is no more. This is I think 13th day since he is gone. I am certainly feeling little bit empty and sorry for him but I am very proud of him. You know why? He donated his eyes and his body for helping mankind. I think he thought of other people even after his death. Very few people do that. He donated his body so that a  future doctor can learn and treat other people. My dad told me about what my granduncle did and my dad said, “Deepti, I am making my will. If something happens to me, I want to donate my body to the hospital.” I totally agreed to it. And why not? That is a noble thing to do. You can save so many lives even after you are gone. I wanted to share this with you guys to spread the noble things around and motivate other people too. I believe this is my way of offering my tribute to my granduncle and to tell my dad that I am proud of him.

There are different types of human tissue donation that can be done while we are alive and when we are dead.  (I know this may not be grammatically correct, but please understand what I want to say.) I remember, in one of the annual education camps for children with diabetes and their parents, organized by JDPAI (Juvenile Diabetic Parents Association of India) one teenager with type 1DM asked me – “Why can’t I donate blood? What can I donate then? Am I not useful?”

Don’t you feel a little something in your heart when a teenager asks this kind of questions? I answered “That’s a very nice thought dear. It is true that we (people with diabetes) can’t donate blood. That is because you and I take insulin or tablets for our health,  which may be bad for the person requiring blood in the emergency. But if we keep ourselves healthy; we can donate our eyes after death and we can certainly donate our body posthumously so that our skin can be useful for patients with burns and our body organs can be used by other people who need it. It also can be used for teaching young doctors about human body” and believe me that made that kid so happy and me too.

Now think this way. We are billions of people around the world. Of these many people, some are blind which can be cured with cornea transplant, many people need skin, kidneys, liver, heart, blood transplant to live. And there is always shortage of these tissues. Many need hair too. If we can donate blood when alive and organs and body posthumously we can help so many people. I know someone like me can’t donate blood. But I can donate my hair when I am alive!! I do not have to become bald for that. People need just 10-12 inches of hair. We all who have hair can donate. My sister-in-law, Smruti Deshpande is also growing her hair to donate. Sri’s cousins also did that.  I am proud of them. We go to salons to have different haircuts to look beautiful. Our hair just falls down in pieces over the floor. If we can donate hair at least once, the receiver of hair will bless us…

If we can donate blood then we should at least once a year. Our body does not get depleted. And also I urge everyone to become an organ donor and have it with you all the time. I am an organ donor and I am very proud of it. My driving license says that I am an organ donor. What does yours say? Even if your license does not say, you can always keep a note in your wallet that you want to become an organ donor and a cornea donor just in case nobody in your family knows or they are not around you. (God forbid this to happen, but you never know.)

Just by writing or saying that you are a donor does not mean your job is done! We have to keep ourselves healthy so that the recipient will have healthy organs. Always think these organs are for other people and take care of them. What is the use of giving all those organs which are of no use? I know I have written on very serious topic but this is an important thing to consider and act on it. Thank you Mama Ajoba (this is how I used to address my paternal granduncle) for what you have done. I am very proud of you. You have left behind a legacy. Rest in peace.