Organ donation: ‘We are just mediators, real heroes are the donor’s family’

This Navratri season, My Medical Mantra brings you inspirational and heart-warming stories of organ transplant coordinators who do everything they can to ensure that a person gets a second chance to live. They are the unsung heroes who still remain motivated in the face of failure


Through their efforts, someone gets a new lease of life. Their job is not an easy one as they have to gain the trust and confidence of strangers in a short span of time.

Today, we introduce you to Sharmila Padhye, a 51-year-old Medical Social Worker (MSW), from Sahyadri Hospital, Pune, who has been doing the work to counsel relatives of brain dead patient’s for organ donation.

She sounds humble while saying they are just mediators, and the real heroes are families of brain dead patients, who agree to donate organs of their loved ones.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Sharmila said, “When the patient is declared brain dead, we do counselling. Not all relatives say yes immediately. There are many superstitions surrounding it. People think that their loved ones won’t get salvation, if their organs are donated. There is also a lot of misunderstanding like some people think that we make money by selling these organs.”

She added, “Some also say that our patient is already under a lot of pain, and we don’t wish to put them in more pain. We then convince them by saying that by donating organs they can give life to more people, and they can still stay with us through their organs.”

She thinks that it is not an easy task to convince the family of the patients. The task is difficult because you need to do it when they have lost their loved ones.

She explains, “In such cases, you need to be careful while talking with families while considering their mental state. Some families get convinced easily, while some take time. There are cases, which have taken almost 8 to 10 hours to give us consent. In some cases, because of delayed consent, we even lose vital organs. In some communities, they do not agree at all. Also, in medico-legal cases, taking consent of entire family is crucial. It is not just the husband, but even parents’ consent becomes important in cases where, for example, a wife has committed suicide.”

While narrating her experiences, she recalls, “In one instance, a young boy lost his life in an accident. His parents were farmers and illiterate. I thought it would be hard to convince them. But, to my surprise, they took the least time to give us consent.”

She further informed, “It is my experience that people from rural backgrounds are more willing for organ donation, and it is easier to convince them. I also have one experience, where the entire family of the patient was a doctor, and still they did not agree for organ donation. Ideally, there would not have been any need for convincing them.”

Sharmila stated that it is not just the efforts of one person, but the hard work of a team that goes into the work of organ donation. There are many people involved in ensuring that the life of a person is saved through organ transplants.

In conclusion, she says, “It is not just one person’s job. It is a coordinated effort. The entire team, including intensivists, hospital management all are involved. And most important amongst these is the donor family. We are just mediators, without the cooperation of the donor family, nothing is possible.”

While she finds this job fulfilling, she expects that the government should create more awareness among people, so that more number of people see a new life.