Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Joy of Giving - Card 33 - Rahmath's Organ Donor Card

Rahmath has been one of the most consistent followers of the Joy of Giving and she has kept up the rhythm by signing her very own Organ Donor card.

You can read her post here... So the Path- Joy of Giving - Week 33

If you're inspired to carry an Organ Donor Card download it and express your wish to donate your organs after your demise.

All the best!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Joy of Giving Card 33 - Sign up for Organ Donation

When the Joy of Giving card 33 prompted us to donate our organs, my first instinct was to go to a hospital and pick up an Organ Donation card.

When I did enquire at one of the leading hospitals in Pune, to my utter shock and dismay I was told that there is no such thing as a card that you need to fill out.  The "Medical Social Worker" at the hospital explained that donating eyes and skin were most common and easily executed. She seemed to be a bit confused about the donation of vital organs and kept repeating that the same can only be done if the patient was declared "brain dead."

So my first reaction was to come home and Google. This is what I found:

1. Organ Donation is in a very dismal state in India. Thousands of lives are lost annually due to lack of organs from cadavers.

2. Tamil Nadu tops the organ donor stats in India with a total of 1464 organs donated from Oct 2008 - May 2012. That is a meagre 36 donations per year! And even with this they top the list!!!

3. The law on Organ Donation was formulated in 1994 with the Transplantation of Human Organ Act (THOA).

According to this law two types of donations are permitted:

a) Living related donors: Only immediate blood relations (brother, sister, parents & children) can donate as per the THOA. Living donor can donate only few organs, one kidney (as one kidney is capable of maintaining the body functions), a portion of pancreas (as half of the pancreas is adequate for sustaining pancreatic functions) and part of the liver (as the few segments that are donated will regenerate after a period of time) can be donated.

b) Cadaver Organ donor: Can donate all organs after brain death.

4. Cadaver donations are accepted after a team of four doctors declares a patient "brain dead" twice in a span of six hours. Brain death is the irreversible and permanent cessation of all brain functions. Brain can no longer send messages to the body to perform vital functions like breathing, sensation, obeying commands etc. Such persons are kept on artificial support (ventilation) to maintain oxygenation of organs so that the organs are in healthy condition until they are removed. Most cases of brain death are the end result of head injuries, brain tumours patients from Intensive care units. Organs of such patients can be transplanted in organ failure patients to provide them a new lease of life.

Thus it is important for the patient who has desired to donate his/her organs be kept on life support system to ensure oxygen supply is not cut off and the organs can still be used. 

5. What can you donate?
Cornea, skin, heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, intestine, bone and bone marrow.

6. The biggest criteria to be able to donate your organs is that your near and dear ones, family or immediate relatives should not raise an objection to your wish. If they do, the "wish" of the donor even if it is in writing will be overlooked. I found that quite preposterous and sad. If I do have an Organ Donor card I need to first convince my family and friends about it!

So strangely in our country, first of all people don't donate organs easily and when they want to, if their family feels otherwise, the organ donation can be set aside!

There seems to be a deep rooted misunderstanding as far as the whole concept goes and I searched more to find out why Indians were so wary of donating their organs "after they deaths". The answer came to me in a conversation with my daughter.

Her first reaction to my search for Organ Donor cards was, "Noooo... You can't give away your organs!!!"

After I sat down to explain to her WHY one must donate, she still stuck to her views, "NO Maa. We would like to cremate ALL of you when you die, not with missing organs!"

She is twelve, but I fathom this must be the most common refrain amongst the relatives of those who have passed on and have desired to donate their organs.

None of this has deterred me. I downloaded this form from a website and request all you to do as well. Once the form is filled, it must be carried on your person (just like you would a Driver's License) and hope as hell that when the Good Lord comes calling, and its time for us to go, our siblings, spouse, parents or children will respect and fulfill our wish....

For more information on organ donation please log into DonateOrgans.net.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

India - Worst country for women

Its official.

According to a G20 poll that is to be presented at the G20 Summit on June 18-19, India is listed as the WORST country amongst the 20 member nations to be a woman in!

What's worse is (I say this for all our bravado and "assumptions" that we have more liberty, freedom and all that than our counterparts in the Arab World) even Saudi Arabia is one place ahead of us!

According to the poll infanticide, dowry deaths, child marriage and domestic slavery make India the worst amongst 20 nations for a woman. And while Saudi Arabia where women are banned from driving and only won the right to vote in 2011 is better off because the women are very well educated.

"In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labor," said Gulshun Rehman, health program development adviser at Save the UK, who was one of those polled.

"This is despite a groundbreakingly progressive Domestic Violence Act enacted in 2005 outlawing all forms of violence against women and girls."

TrustLaw (the agency that conducted the poll) asked aid professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, journalists and development specialists with expertise in gender issues to rank the 19 countries of the G20 in terms of the overall best and worst to be a woman.

They also ranked countries in six categories: quality of health, freedom from violence, participation in politics, work place opportunities, access to resources such as education and property rights and freedom from trafficking and slavery. (Source: Reuters.com)

Canada was voted the number one country for women. As the European Union was not included in the poll we have been awarded the 20th position, else with competition from countries like Finland and Sweden we would have been pushed to a negative position. 

No need to wax eloquent about "a country that reveres its women, worships them as Goddesses" etc...the ground reality as has been getting increasingly clear with the attacks on the woman (dowry, acid attacks, honour killings, rapes) and the girl child (foeticide, infanticide, child marriage, rapes) and prostitution regardless of their age, coupled with the lack of education, empowerment etc...is very very grim....

There is no other way to end this ramble but to say - disgusting and shameful....

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dowry and Killing the Girl child - Make the connection. Stop the practice

It turns out that they are not just killing them in the womb any more.

In the past few months, cases of absolute brutality have surfaced against toddlers - 2.5 year old Tara who eventually died from her injuries, 3 month old Afreen who was admitted in a Bangalore hospital and who also succumbed to her injuries and more recently, Shireen eighteen months old from Indore who was brutally beaten by an adult...all girls.

Recently the government crack down on Sex Determination (under the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT), as amended in 2002) by nursing homes, hospitals and clinics (yes, including those that exist in bye-lanes and hidden corners) has made news in all leading newspapers, as some very renowned hospitals were also caught revealing the sex of the unborn child to parents.

Suddenly I found hospitals put up boards to announce that the practice of sex determination is illegal and they wouldn't indulge in it. The crackdown perhaps helped more girl children to come into this world, but the fact remains that many of them are unwelcome and undesired.

There is a deep malaise in the core of the very fabric of our society that looks upon the birth of a boy as a cause for celebration and of a girl as cause for unhappiness.

Because boys ensure the continuance of family lineage with their precious XY Chromosome and girls...well...girls only end up getting married the cost of which has to be borne by the parents.

The absurd reality of the culture that India is so famous for in Western countries is not lost on parents who have girls of 'marriageable' age and whose biggest concern and perhaps life's biggest achievement and expenditure would be to ensure that the girls are married off with as much pomp and gaiety as they can afford.

Being rich or poor has nothing to do with it. The pressure on parents who have a daughter is immense since the demands of the "marriage market" keep increasing by the day.

From having weddings at resorts, to designer clothes to diamond jewellery, the average cost of hosting a 'simple' wedding ranges from 45 - 150 million rupees based on which segment of society you belong to. Most parents go beyond their financial capacities to host a "good wedding", in other words, satisfy the groom's and his parent's demands, because of the deep rooted belief that money can go a long way in ensuring the happiness of the wedlock.

While you would expect that girls, with a rise in education, employment opportunities and increase in awareness, would be keen on curbing practices that virtually entrap their parents, the fact is that nothing has changed. If anything the scenario has only changed for the worse.

Girls themselves want fairytale weddings. They are unwilling to compromise on the "best" money can buy/they can afford for their big day and succumb to the pressures of the wedding hullabaloo.

Couples who seek to get married with the concurrence of their parents (read: love matches as opposed to arranged), also expect the parents to bear the cost of the wedding. From fancy locations, to hiring specialised photographers and wedding planners, the concept of a 'simple' wedding no longer exists.

And that’s the reason why couples even from affluent families are scared of having more than one daughter. And if another is on the way, she is simply killed in the womb to ensure that the burden is not theirs to bear. Lately what is being witnessed is also that even if she is born, her life is nothing short of living hell.

I've written about this before and it still pains me to know that my own cousins sisters are being put through the ignominy of aborting female foetuses to fulfill the desire to have a male child/heir. Many of my cousins brothers have forced their wives to it too.

Doesn’t this act of absolute brutality diminish the lines that distinguish us from animals?

It has been suggested by law makers that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1986, must carry the mandatory provision of consent of the mother for aborting the foetus. But such amendments to existing laws are useless as perpetrators do not seek refuge under the provisos of law. Instead they find a nursing home in the next bye-lane that will bend the rules for monetary benefits. Moreover, women, even in rich families, are not emancipated enough to go against the decision of the elders or the husband.

The discrimination girls in India face has to do with cultural beliefs and social norms. Until we challenge these norms, no legislation can stop the selective murders of the girl child, either in the womb or after her birth. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Love is in the air...

The quietly humming air conditioner had illuminated the room with its display light. Lying in bed, I was hoping to fall asleep when I turned sides and saw my son was awake too. He was staring at the window the shades of which I'd purposefully left undrawn. I whispered to him (so as not to wake up the other sleeping child) what he was thinking about.

"Not what mamma... who"... he said.

"Ok...who are you thinking about...?"

"Oh you know...."

"No I don't..."

He smiled from ear to ear and blushingly blurted out her name, "Mohana..."

"Ohhhh.... nice..."

Mohana is a classmate from his old school, the one he left in March. I wasn't aware of the presence of this girl until one day, a friend whose home the kids were staying in for 2 days while the hubby and I shifted to another locality in the city, called to tell me that he'd been telling her 8 year old daughter about Mohana - "the love of my life!"

"So do you like her?" I asked.

"Mamma...not LIKE..." he answered and clarified... "L O V E ...love.."

"Ah! Ok!!" I said grinning to myself comfortably camouflaged in the darkness as he continued to stare at some point beyond me.

"So have you told her that you love her?" I asked

"No! I am scared..." he answered

"You don't have to be scared. You can tell her..."

"No mamma. I am too young..."

"Ah!!!" I thought to myself - too young to tell her but not too young to 'fall' in love!!!!

The conversation moved to how much he was missing Mohana and the other friends from his old school. I assured him that he will make friends in this school too.

He sighed and said, "But there cannot be anyone like Mohana!"....

I asked my love lorn nine year old if he'd like to go visit her sometime this week to which he jumped up and hugged me and said, "Oh thank you so much!"

Smiling he shared more with me, "I dream sometimes that we are married and we have kids and that my handwriting is still bad and I ask Mohana to do all the writing for me..."

"My children have PSPs to play with but I have invented them..." and went on to explain at great length the PSP he will invent in the future...

"But Mamma, she is a Christian..."

"That doesn't matter. As long as you love her" I assured him...

"Ok. Good. I think she is from Brazil..." he added his eyes travelling once more to some point beyond me, out of the window...

Eventually we drifted off to sleep, him and I. I have a feeling he was dreaming of Mohana as a faint smile played on his lips ....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Joy of Giving - Card 32, 33

Its the holiday season and I knew most of my fellow bloggers were vacationing...getting away from the Summer heat... So I decided to delay posting Card 32 by a week.

Got my daughter to pick two cards (to catch up) and the cards are both immensely important - one for "Ourselves" and the other "For Strangers" who we may end up giving the greatest joy of all!

Card 32

Card 33

Join in the journey. Here's how! 

Go to the page titled Joy Of Giving where I have posted all the cards selected so far. Those of you who'd like to start this exercise from the beginning, just follow the cards in the order they are posted!


To join the Joy of Giving right away just follow the cards every week as they are posted on the blog.

Please REMEMBER to post your experiences in a public forum - your own blog, note on FaceBook - or leave your story in the comment section of this blog. Do remember to tag me in your posts...

To know how it started 
click here.

To track the Joy of Giving through the past thirty one weeksclick here

DO spread the message of this unique movement. Encourage your friends to start following the cards and spreading joy...