Organ donation: ‘Noes’ don’t deter her, as one ‘yes’ can save many lives

They are a beacon of hope for people who have been waitlisted for an organ transplant. 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. 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

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She has spent several sleepless nights and at the times the day also stretches for too long. Day in, day out the mental pressure keeps piling up. There is no certainty that she will get a ‘yes.’ But she clings to the ray of hope that is she works hard someone’s life will be saved.

The life of an organ transplant coordinator is not a simple one. But there are the ones, who gift a life to an unknown person just like a guardian angel.

Meet Veena Wathore, a 52-year-old woman from Nagpur, Maharashtra. She is currently working as a zone coordinator with the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, she said, “A close family member of mine is suffering from kidney failure. I have witnessed the suffering and agony up-close. And that’s when I learned about the importance of organ donation. So I decided to accept it as my work and went after it with a burning passion.”

The mission that she began to nurture is to ‘Save a life’. And, to fulfil it, she has been working ceaselessly for the past five years. During this Veena, has been instrumental behind counselling 58 families to donate the organs of their loved ones.

Veena informed, “There is always a pressure when you meet the family of a brain-dead patient. Counselling the family needs patience, as first you have to win their trust. We need to understand their background, faith, and, nature. Analysing their mental state and then begin a conversation. Once you establish the trust, it makes the process and convincing the family easy.”

She added, “Yes, it’s a tedious and stressful job. But, when you hear the positive answer from the family member, it makes me feel happy, to save yet another life.”

But what inspired Veena to take up this cause? While doing research in Medical and Psychiatry Sociality, Veena met organ recipients, in Chennai. Their life-changing experience motivated her to pursue this field of work to help the needy.

“I still remember my first case. A 22-year-old boy was brain-dead. We counselled his family. But, the boy’s mother was very emotional, due to this she didn’t say YES, for three days. I spoke to her day in, day-out, and finally, it yielded results,” said Veena.

But, even if she hopes, not all the days are as successful as she wishes them to be. There are bad days too.

Veena further explained, “There are cases when a family says no for the organ donation. We have to respect their decision. But, one thing I want to stress here is that I have heard more ‘no’s’ from urban families, compared to the rural ones. And, we need to spread awareness to change this situation. Whenever a family says, no for donation, I ask myself, where did I go wrong? As there is always a scope for improvement.”

Veena proudly says that in 75% of the brain-dead cases, the woman in the family comes forward to donate the organs of their relative.

Veena concluded with a case which has been etched on her mind which she never be able to erase from her memory.

She recalled the incident, saying, “I can’t forget the organ donation of Rivyani. The six-year-old had saved the life of two people. But, the most challenging task was to counsel her father. And, after donation too, it took me two to three months to counsel him and get him out of that mental distress that he was under.”