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Why I’m Going to Research Organ & Body Donation For My Brave Anna

My dad, who has Parkinson’s Disease, has always wanted to donate his body and organs to medical science.

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3 min read
Why I’m Going to Research Organ & Body Donation For My Brave Anna

I return from the Jaipur Literature Festival on a real high. The sessions were great. My love for books and reading has been rekindled. And I have relaxed with college mates.

I am away for just four days. I go to see Anna on the 24th morning at breakfast time. Anna is sitting at the dining table as I walk in.

Me: I'm baackkk!

Anna is so focused on his upma that he does not hear me.

Me: Anna, I'm back from Jaipur.

Anna (giving me a sideways upward glance): Yes.

Me (obviously expecting more excitement): Anna, did you miss me?

Anna: You've been gone for two weeks!

Me (in a conciliatory voice): Anna, I've been gone for four days!

He doesn't really believe me. In his reality, it has really been two weeks.

10 days go by with Anna in a daze or sleeping most of the time. The constant rain on 26th January does not help. He is cold and stiff. One evening when I go to see him, he can barely shuffle his way to the sofa from his bedroom and has to be carried by the attendant and housekeeper.

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Me: Anna, you are very tired today?

Anna: Yes.

Me: Why are you so tired today, Anna?

Anna: There is a lot of work to do.

Me: What work Anna?

Anna: The entire area needs to be sanitised.

Me (confused): Sanitised? Oh, OK.

Anna: And my clothes need to be burnt.

Me (huh?): OoKayy!?

“Anna, medical science can use a body of an elderly person to study the impact of ageing and age related diseases,” I tell him. (Photo Courtesy: Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal)

I am wondering what is happening. What is Anna thinking about? I keep asking questions and I keep hearing about sanitisation and the burning of clothes. Then.....

Anna: The cadaver can't be used now.

Me: What cadaver Anna?

I think that he is hallucinating about dead people. It's happened before and I know how to play along.

Anna: My cadaver.

Yikes! Anna thinks he is dead.

Me (deciding not to dwell on his being dead but on the use of the cadaver): Why is the cadaver of no use, Anna?

Anna: Because I am too old.

Me: Anna, medical science can use a body of an elderly person to study the impact of ageing and age related diseases. (Not knowing more on the subject I feebly add) – And many more things.

Anna (perking up a little): Really?

Me: Really! (Pause.) Anna, you always wanted to donate your body and organs to medical science. You have it on your Do Not Resuscitate Order questionnaire.

Anna: Yes. For the benefit of Medical Science. (Pause.) But my old organs are of no use now.

Me (waxing eloquently on a subject that I don't know much about): Anna, I am sure they can use skin, and retinas, and veins, and liver, and blood, and marrow. There are a lot of organs that can be harvested.

Anna believes me.

Now I've gotta go out and really study the area of organ and body donation. Got some names and numbers at AIIMS. Internet searches and doctors, here I come!

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(After working in corporate India for over 29 years, Sangeeta has taken time off to look after her father, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2008. Sangeeta hopes that these authentic stories will help patients and caregivers understand and appreciate the impact of Parkinson’s Disease. You can follow Sangeeta’s blog here.)

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