26 March, 2018

Aishwarya’s gift lights up lives

Organ donation is a ray of hope for many. There is a need to make a commitment for sharing and saving lives for the sake of humanity

Aishwarya – Organ donation – Tata Trusts
Aishwarya – Organ donation – Tata Trusts
Aishwarya – Organ donation – Tata Trusts
Aishwarya – Organ donation – Tata Trusts

The first thing I noticed about her was the vibrant blue nail polish on her toes, and then the long braid. Aishwarya was a lively 13-year-old girl, so they all said. And then there were the machines she was connected to as she lay on a bed in the intensive care unit, dead. A sudden catastrophic bleed in the brain, with no warning whatsoever, left her brain dead and her family stunned. But she continues to spread happiness even in her absence. Her family decided to save lives by donating her organs. Organ donation can save and improve many lives. It's a cause that each one of us should consider seriously.  

Memories, so many of them...yet not enough; these were Aishwarya’s mother’s feelings. Rama told us with pride that her child would participate in every activity in school, and then murmured brokenly, “She went to school on Monday morning, just like on any other day, and now she has returned four days later never to go back again.” Her father Prabhakar, with tears in his eyes, lamented that she was the only girl child in their family. An uncle remembered that Aishwarya always wore a smile, she loved to dress up, visit her cousins and play with them. Her friends said that she’d told them that morning that she’d got all that she needed for Diwali and that she was happy.

What struck us when we met the family to counsel them was their unwavering commitment to organ donation. Her maternal uncle said, “We are doing this for Aishwarya — for her life to be meaningful.” It meant a long waiting period, more than 24 hours while the procedures were carried out. The entire family waited patiently, stoically till it was all done.

We visited the family on the day of the funeral to pay tribute to Aishwarya. We laid a garland and lit a special candle on which was inscribed ‘Light… Pass it on.’ I watched Rama standing by gazing at her daughter’s face. Someone had mentioned to me that Rama was a Sanskrit scholar, and a long forgotten prayer from my childhood came to my mind. I reached for Rama’s hand, held it, and recited the verse.

Asato ma sadgamaya tamasoma jyotir gamaya mrityorma amritam gamaya Om shanti shanti shanti.”
("From ignorance, lead me to truth; from darkness, lead me to light; from death, lead me to immortality. Peace, peace, peace.”)

Rama looked at me and said, “Aishwarya too recited that in school every day.”

On Friday, 21st October 2016, Aishwarya donated her heart, two kidneys, liver (shared by two children) and the corneas (that allowed two people to see again). Aishwarya passed on the light of life to seven people whose lives were threatened with darkness. She attained immortality in death. We pray that her family attains peace.

— Dr. Sumana Navin, Course Director, Mohan Foundation, a partner of the Trusts and involved in facilitating cadaveric organ donation and transplantation.

This story has been taken from the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Allied Trusts Annual Report 2016-17.