He could not serve the nation and its people while alive. But in death, 22-year-old ITBP recruit Roshan Kumar became the saviour for half a dozen families.
Days after he received news of his first posting with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Uttarakhand native died in a road accident last week in Delhi’s Dwarka area where he was visiting relatives. But six of his vital organs became life-savers for as many transplant patients at hospitals in the Capital.
India has a huge gap in demand and supply of organs. Experts say many people are unwilling to donate relatives’ organs due to religious beliefs, because they don’t understand how it works, or because it is too difficult to do so due to red tape. Roshan belonged to an army background, and was brought up by an uncle. “When he was just one year old, his parents died. I looked after him. From his very childhood and schooldays he wanted to become a soldier and serve the country. For this, he worked very hard. His dream was about to become reality. Now Roshan is not at the border to protect the country. But I am proud to say that he served the nation by saving six lives,” Roshan’s uncle told Mail Today, requesting anonymity.
According to government data, about 2 lakh people are waitlisted for kidneys and 30,000 for livers. Legal donations meet about 3 to 5 per cent of the demand.
ROSHAN WAS HIT BY A SPEEDING BIKE
In desperation, some patients on the waiting list seek the services of middlemen to procure organs for money illegally. Dr AK Rai, medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, told Mail Today, “Last week, late night we received a call from a Dwarka-based hospital that they were referring a severely injured accident patient to us. We activated our expert team as the patient had very little chance of survival. Even in the time of grief, family members of the deceased agreed to donate the organs of their young son to fulfil his only wish to serve the country.”
Roshan was on foot when he was hit by a speeding bike and fell, receiving serious brain injuries.
Doctors retrieved the organs in quick time. “After the patient was declared brain dead and the family agreed to donate his all organs, experts’ team from NOTTO (National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation) and Safdarjung Hospital started the procedure of organ retrieval,” said (Prof) Dr Anup Kumar, head of renal transplant department at Safdarjung.
HE SERVED HIS NATION IN DEATH
“All potential organs such as eyes, heart, liver, kidneys and intestine were procured, which gave fresh lease of life to six patients. Two people got eyes and one patient at AIIMS received the heart. Two patients got kidneys, one got a liver and the intestines were sent to Medanta hospital.”
Roshan’s act is a message of brotherhood and harmony for the nation, say doctors. “He is a gem,” Dr Kumar said. “One of his kidneys was transplanted to a Muslim patient at Safardjung Hospital who was on dialysis for two years and could not find any donor.”
Speaking to Mail Today, 47-year-old Parvez Alam who stays at Khanpur in south Delhi, said, “I am blessed that I have received a kidney from a Hindu patient who was brain dead. Roshan proved Hindu-Muslim Bhai Bhai. I was searching for a kidney for the past two years, but the miracle happened when I was in the last stage of dialysis. May Roshan’s soul rest in peace.”
On Tuesday, Safdarjung Hospital felicitated Roshan’s family. “If a person is dedicated to fulfil his dreams, he or she can do it even when not alive,” said Dr Sangeeta Sehrawat, organ retrieval coordinator at the institute. “One needs only determination and this was proved by this inspiring young defence personnel.”