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Why India has a poor record in organ donation?
Besides lack of awareness and relief beliefs, people in India cite another reason to decide against donating their organs. It is the concern that their organs wouldn't reach the needy people because of massive corruption.

ANJALI SHARMA (name changed), a resident of Delhi has been brought up believing that people who donate their body organs would be born without that organ in their next life. “For instance, if someone donates his/her eyes, the person would be born blind in his/her next life,” Sharma was made to believe. But her beliefs received a jolt when she heard about Madan Mohan Juneja, a Delhi resident who donated 34 organs of his brain-dead son's body that could eventually help 34 needy people.

“There is a lack of awareness about brain dead, as it means - the person is medically and legally dead,” says Pallavi Kumar, executive director of Delhi branch of MOHAN (Multi Organ Harvesting Aid Network Foundation), a well known non-profit organisation working towards promoting organ donation in India.

The good part, Ms Kumar believes is that more than 80-85% per cent people who participate in their seminars agree to donating their organs. “The main problem lies in lack of infrastructure. Very few hospitals look into such kind of matters," Ms Kumar adds.

Even though there is a huge population of people like Anjali Sharma whose religious beliefs put them away from organ donation, Mukund Sharma, a Nepali Brahman, who also conducts pujas has a completely different take on the subject. "If it benefits someone it is good. People donating their body organs would be relieved and their soul would also breathe peacefully,” Mukund believes.

Sushil Chettri, a regular Church-goer supports the act of organ donation and thinks everyone should do it. “The organs of a dead person would anyway decay so why not donate them to a person who is on the death bed. At least his life can be saved," says Chettri.

Even though people in the west readily donate their organs, but in India, social stigma prevents people from doing this generous act. How would you parents react if you decide to donate your organs, Chettri replies: "No one is okay with it. Very few parents would volunteer to do this, as they would not like to bury or set on fire a mutilated body.”

Even if some people decide to donate organs, but the uncertainity that needy people would have access to them is another impediment. Chetna Mukhia, who stays in Bangalore is one such person. "After a person's death, it is okay to donate, but we have heard stories that people sell their organs just for the sake of money when they are alive. I do not approve of such donations. In this manner, the donor is also risking his life.”

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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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