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Give at least 10% Back to Humanity, Says the Man Who Donated a Part of His Liver to an Ailing Friend

Give at least 10% Back to Humanity, Says the Man Who Donated a Part of His Liver to an Ailing Friend

When I recently came across a social media post about Prasanna Gopinath, a 34-year-old Chennai boy, who donated a part of his liver to save his friend's life, I was astonished. It was the kindest act of humanity I had ever heard of and I was curious to know the details.

I approached the Max Hospital, Saket, Delhi, where the surgery was held, to gather more details.

This is what happened (for those who have not seen the post): After suffering from chronic liver disease for 17 years, 44-year-old Puja Bhatnagar was told by doctors in May this year that medicines would not work anymore. Her family was informed that only a transplant would save her and so they started looking for a donor among relatives, but found no one suitable. Then Puja's husband, Anurag, posted a plea of help on Facebook, with little hope. After all, who other than family would donate a part of their liver!

To his surprise, someone did call to help. Prasanna, who used to share a flat with Puja and her husband while he was studying at the University of Glamorgan in Wales 10 years ago, offered to donate. He flew down immediately to Delhi from Chennai and the transplant was carried out on July 21 at Max Hospital in Saket, after all the legal and medical procedures were done. And, today both Prasanna and Puja are doing well.

This story left me absolutely surprised. Truly a friend in need, I thought. However, I was little skeptical as well. The journalist in me thought, something is strange since this has happened during World Organ Donation Day (13th August) and Friendship Day (6th August). However, few minutes later I felt ashamed and guilty for taking a mere coincidence with a pinch of salt.

How could I doubt such an act of kindness. When we journalists interview celebrities, we never question their integrity, why should I even think this way, I thought. Prasanna Gopinath is the real hero. And, he deserves every single piece of appreciation, every comment, like and share. These are the kind of people who reinforce our faith in humanity. That's when I decided to interact with him. I requested him to share his thoughts and motivate many youngsters out there to lead their lives with a purpose.

What were your first thoughts when you saw Anurag's post on social media?
I was working at that point and I happened to come across the post asking for help, I immediately jumped onto help my friend without any second thought at all. I just knew it had to be done and I felt like going ahead with it in the immediate next moment. We were students at University of Lamborghini, Whales, UK where we met in 2004 while partying. We (Prasanna & Anurag, Puja's husband) got along really well and then we started living together. That's how we became family from being friends. Puja and her daughter joined us later in UK and our bond only grew stronger, those were one of the best 2 years for us in life. So I was very much sure that I wanted to do this for them.

Did you have any fear or were you skeptical while taking the decision to donate?
No, because I absolutely knew what I was getting into, I never doubted my decision. In fact, me and my wife were away from each other at the time when we read the post (with me being at work and her at home), but both of us replied to the post simultaneously only to realise later that we both wanted to do the same thing i.e., donate our organ. However, she got tested and didn't match but fortunately I did, and I was more than happy to go ahead with it.

Is there any particular event or advice you recieved that made you take this decision?
Not an advice but an emotional quotient. Since we as a family have went through a similar situation earlier when my mother donated one of her kidneys in the past to her sister. So I knew what Anurag might be feeling and what Puja also might be going through. Also, my family was very supportive all along this journey so that helped a lot.

Is there enough awareness about the Transplant Act in India?
I think there are many misconceptions inscribed in the minds of people regarding organ donation. If only more people were aware of who can donate and who cannot there won't be so many deaths due to liver failure.

(As these friends were tenants in the same house many years back in UK and had all required documents to prove the dame, they were allowed donation after considering the strong bond of friendship)

What do you have to say to people out there who still fear organ donation?
I'd like to tell them that every surgery is risky and that shouldn't be a reason for us to not help someone. I have donated a part of my liver and I am absolutely fine. My recovery took a week or so and a lot of people told me to not work for some time. Since I'm a dog trainer, my work involves a lot of activity. But to be honest, I am doing just fine. I'm walking, talking and eating normally just following few precautions, that's all.

You are truly an inspiration to many and a lifehacker in the real sense of the term. Any advice to our readers?
Just remember when you donate, you are doing something unique. You are going to save a life. If you fear post-surgery recovery, I really don't think there is anything to worry about. It's a very straight forward procedure and you can manage the recovery time very easily, it's not a problem at all.

Tell us about the doctors who performed the surgery.
Dr Subhash Gupta, Chairman - Liver and Biliary Sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, has been a great support for us in the entire procedure. He hasn't only been a medical expert, but has also been a pillar of strength morally and emotionally. He guided us about the entire procedure well in advance and that knowledge helped us be mentally and emotionally prepared for undergoing the transplant. In his hands, we felt extremely safe and comfortable.

What is that belief or behaviour that we as a society need to change?
As a society, we need to start thinking a bit rationally for sake of humanity as well as start trusting our doctors much more.

Lastly, when we read about people like you, it restores our faith in humanity. Kudos to you and your wife.
I don't think there's anything more gratifying that one can do with the spare parts that you were born with, than to register yourself as a donor. Because once you're gone, you're gone there's nothing you can do about this reality. So, why not make use of it. Even if you can give 10% back to humanity, that's great. And I always say give back more to the world, than you take. The least you can do is register yourself as an organ donor.

(Also read: I Chose 'Difficult But Rewarding' Over 'Easy But Boring', And That's My Lifehack To Success: Kiran Bedi )

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