Family WhatsApp groups can be quite mundane, filled with regular ‘good morning’ messages and inspirational quotes.
However, a single conversation can also elicit change, as seen on this Madurai family’s WhatsApp group where 42 members pledged to donate their organs on their grandmother’s death anniversary.
On January 21, Mathan Karuppiah’s extended kin went to Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) in Madurai and pledged to donate their organs.
“My wife and I registered to donate our eyes ten years ago. So when we were discussing the idea of registering our other organs for donation on our family WhatsApp group, the other members decided to do so too,” he says.
The family gets together in Madurai once every year. This year, since they were all in the city for their grandmother’s death anniversary, the group decided to go together to donate their organs.
There isn’t a lot of awareness about organ donation in India. However, Tamil Nadu leads the way, with its own autonomous Transplant Authority.
Venkatesh S, transplantation coordinator at GRH Madurai, says, “In the last one-and-a-half years, we have tried to conduct several awareness and outreach programmes for people to understand the need and importance of organ donation.”
However, an entire family of 42 members coming forward to donate their organ is a first. “It is very inspirational, and could encourage others to come forward as well,” he adds.
GRH Madurai recently conducted its first heart transplant surgery in October last year, making it the first facility in south Tamil Nadu to have performed this procedure successfully.
While people usually prefer private hospitals for such surgeries, it is better to go to government hospitals for the same. “Transplantations is done free of cost at government hospitals,” he says.
K Raja, another member of the family, says that they decided to register at a government hospital so it could help the needy.
“Whatever doubts the members of my family had, the Dean of the college and hospital, Dr D Maruthupandian, cleared it all for us. Even though our children had come along to register for the donation, we were later told that only those above 18 years of age can do,” says Mathan
Of the 42 members of the family, ranging from 18 to 50 years of age, 35 of them have pledged both their eyes and organs, and 7 of them had pledged their eyes for donation.