A ‘Hindu’ heart in ‘Muslim’ chest is the best reply to hate in Gujarat

Donate Life has helped save the life of five Muslim heart patients besides others

Mahesh Trivedi for TwoCircles.net

There is no love lost between Hindus and Muslims in BJP-ruled Gujarat after the bloody communal clashes in 2002. Indeed, the chasm has deepened further after the recent Delhi riots as Muslims have been reduced to second-class citizens, living in grid-locked ghettos that lack even basic facilities.

And in the national Capital as the Hindu-Muslim slur deepens thanks to the careless rhetoric game played by extremist on both sides. In the middle of all this, however, several Muslims have come out with stories of how they were saved by their Hindu neighbors during the unprecedented Delhi violence.

Support TwoCircles

Similarly, some Muslims in Gujarat have been feeling grateful to their Hindu donors and friends who are saving lives by donating organs before breathing their last. Not long ago, a Hindu family in the land of Mahatma Gandhi gave a new lease of life to a Muslim man on his death bed in a similar manner. Thanks to the efforts of ‘Donate Life’, an award winning, Surat-based non-government organization working for organ donations.

Nilesh Mandlewala has been honoured with several prestigious awards for his noble organ donation mission

When Amit Halpati, son of farm labourers living in a village in Navsari in south Gujarat, decided to go for a ride with a friend on the latter’s motorcycle, little did he realise that he had driven a nail in his coffin. Minutes later, their bike skidded and Halpati sustained serious head injuries while his friend was only slightly hurt.

He was rushed to a public hospital in nearby Surat where doctors declared him brain dead, sending shockwaves to his family. In no time, volunteers of Donate Life reached out to the grieving family and succeeded in convincing them—a tough job–how Halpati’s organs could save the life of seven run-down people on their last legs. While his two kidneys, two eyes, liver and pancreas were donated to different needy patients, the heart had to be removed and safely taken to a private hospital in Ahmedabad where Sohail Vora of Anand, whose heart was dying, was awaiting a donor for eight months.

Mandlewala (left, in white shirt) supervises organ transportation at every stage

With the help of policemen, airport staff and local doctors, Donate Life team created a ‘green corridor’ by stopping the traffic and allowing free passage to the ambulance carrying the heart and took it to Ahmedabad by a chartered aircraft.

“The distance of 277 km from the Surat civil hospital to the private hospital in Ahmedabad was covered in 85 minutes flat and the five-hour heart transplant surgery was immediately performed on Sohail,” said Nilesh Mandlewala, founder and president of Donate Life. Hence, the heart of a 21-year-old labourer was transplanted into the body of a 32-year-old madrassa teacher who had been fighting for life for eight months.

Donate Life has so far procured 805 cadaver organs—26 hearts, 359 kidneys, 264 eyes, seven pancreases and four lungs– to bring smiles on the faces of 740 crucial patients, including even a few foreigners, admitted in hospitals across not just Gujarat but in various cities of India.

Apart from Sohail, four more Muslim heart patients have benefited from Mandlewala’s benevolent organ donation project in the recent past. Mandlewala, who has been honoured with countless prestigious awards by top-drawer organisations, told TwoCircles.net that India faced an acute shortage of donors, resulting in loss of lives, adding that while 50,000 patients required heart transplants every year, hardly 370 had been conducted in the past 25 years.

“Some 2 million people are suffering from kidney failure in India and around 200,000 such patients are added every year,” said Ramesh Jain secretary of Donate Life. He added that the situation regarding those suffering from failure of liver, pancreas, heart, eyes, etc. is no better.

In India, Tamil Nadu tops in organ donations, and globally, Spain has the highest organ donation rate of 34 donors per million compared to 25 donors in the United States, but India has a shameful record of just 0.5 donor per million.

Indeed, the organ donation process in India is administered by the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization but heath experts like famed cardiologist Ramesh Kapadia say that “state- and district-level bodies, which have failed to manage organ donation, need to be strengthened and critical care doctors have to be proactive about identifying brain death cases.”

The donated organ is transported to a distant city by a chartered aircraft

About 10,000 brain deaths take place in Delhi alone every year but even 1,000 of these potential donors are not harnessed, not to mention the fact that about 500,000 patients die due o non-availability of organs for transplantation. Under such circumstances, Donate Life has an enviable record of persuading over 800 organ donors—most of them ordinary citizens– whose golden-hearted families are also rightly felicitated by Mandlewala year after year.

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up,” says Mandlewala, a humble businessman who has dedicated his life to his noble mission after witnessing how his father had to suffer due to kidney failure.