CCTV footage from the Salem hospital shows authorities talking to the family about organ donation.

Was coerced to donate my brothers organs says Kerala man TN hospital denies chargeImage- Manikandan
news Organ Donation Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 17:27

It was on the evening of May 18 that 19-year-old Shankar received a call from a friend of his brother Manikandan informing him about the accident.

23-year-old Manikandan had been critically injured in an accident at Kallakurichi in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district while travelling with his friends. By the time Shankar and his parents travelled from their house in Meenakshipuram in Kerala’s Palakkad district, a decision had been taken to shift Manikandan to a private hospital.

“He was at a government hospital in Villupuram and the ambulance staff told his friends that he should be shifted to a private hospital. They took him and two of his friends, who were also critically injured to the Vinayaka Mission Super Specialty Hospital in Salem.”

Doctors at VIMS told Shankar that his brother was critical and that they would do everything they could to save his life. “On May 19, they did not give us any update. On May 20, they told us that my brother was brain dead. We were shattered, we told them that we will take him home, because they said once they take him off the machine (ventilator), he won’t make it,” Shankar says.

Soon, an official at the hospital told him that the bill for his brother’s hospitalisation was around Rs 3 lakh, alleges Shankar. “We told them that we had no money with us. My brother was a coolie, I am unemployed. When we told them, we don’t have money to pay, they told us that we could donate his organs. They said that if we give away his organs, the bill would be forfeited and they would transport his body to our house in an ambulance for free.”

Shankar says he and his family are not well-educated, but they did know what organ donation was. “I just didn’t want to say ‘yes’ to them.”

Manikandan’s kidneys, corneas, liver, intestines, pancreas, heart and lungs were harvested and sent to Fortis Hospital and Global Hospital in Chennai, KMCH in Coimbatore and Manipal Hospital in Salem. VIMS also used one of his organs, states this report.  

Shankar insists there should be an inquiry against the VIMS hospital. “Why did they take him to the hospital that is more than 110 km away? Those who accompanied him to the hospital said that they saw other hospitals on the way. They also told us that everything will be free if we donate organs, why did they say that?” he asked.

Dr VP Chandrasekaran, Chief Operating Officer of VIMS told TNM that Manikandan was brought to VIMS as the hospital had good neurological treatment facilities.

“First aid was given at the Villupuram government hospital. Any victims of accidents in the Athur-Kallakurichi area are normally brought to Salem or Coimbatore. They may have chosen to go to Salem as it’s on the way to Kerala,” he said.

He denied that Shankar’s allegation that the hospital had asked for money. “On May 19, we had got a surety from the owner of Manikandan’s vehicle that he would pay the bill. And he did that later. So then, why would we ask money from the family?”

Two CCTV footage from the hospital on May 21 shows the COO in consultation with the family and friends of Manikandan. In one of the videos, Chandrasekaran can be heard telling the family what organ donation is, how it works and that even if one of the family members were against it, the hospital will not harvest the organs.

The second clip shows the family and other witnesses signing the papers. Shankar says they had no option but to sign. However, in the video, one cannot see any opposition being raised by the family.

Chandrasekaran said that the police had come to the hospital twice already. “The first investigation happened on May 26, police were there the entire day and we showed them all the document trail and CCTV footage. They came again June 10 and spent the day reconfirming the documents.”

In the last week of May, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to his counterpart Edappadi Palaniswami asking for an inquiry.

“Manikandan was put on ventilator support. The hospital authorities demanded Rs 3 lakh as treatment costs. Besides, they also demanded Rs 25,000 to take the body to Meenakshipuram. Since the relatives were not carrying enough cash, the hospital authorities allegedly made them sign on some papers. Later, the body was handed over to the relatives and no post-mortem report was provided to them. This incident has violated all ethical norms of the medical profession and requires to be probed in detail,” the Chief Minister said.

No case has been registered yet on the basis of Shankar’s plea to the Chief Minister, but both Kerala and TN police have started inquiries.

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