God created humans with the same body and soul, just in different shapes, sizes and colours. It is humans who divided people on the basis of colour, religion, caste and creed.

Actually all religions in their core teaching are  “humanity driven,” but over time, this has got overlayered with many other aspects like rituals, beliefs, intolerance and power hunger. It’s high time we all worked together to remind people that we are all humans — and our first religion is humanity. Religions must never be used to divide us.

Humanity is about helping others and solving their problems, regardless of their religion. Only when we show humanity by helping others and treating them as our family members, we are humans. 

Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi

As medical professionals,  we know that blood  and organ donation have never been ruled by differentiating between religion, caste, colour or creed of the donor and recipient. Our body parts  are human, and do not differ from one religion to the other. .

Here I want to share with you a very heart-warming true story which showed how humanity is far more important than religion.

In April 2012, in his native province of Kandahar Afghanistan, a soldier in the Afghan army, Major Abdul Rahim along with his unit was clearing a road of ordnance, when an unexploded bomb went off. He lost both hands but suffered no other injuries. Major Rahim came to Amrita Institute Delhi in 2014 for hand transplantation. He was told to wait for a donor.

In April 2015 , TG Joseph, a 52-year-old construction worker in Kochi, left home  on a motorcycle to go to work. He was hit by another vehicle on the way, and was declared brain dead when he was brought to the hospital.

The doctors asked the family if they wished to donate his organs. Joseph’s uncle had pledged his own organs already, so he persuaded the family to donate Mr Joseph’s cornea and liver. The doctors then told them about Abdul Rahim from Afghanistan, who had lost his hands, and they asked them if they wished to donate Joseph’s hands also. The family agreed immediately.

Major Abdul Rahim from Afghanistan looks happy with his new pair of hands received from the departed Joseph

Dr  Subramanian Iyer with his team of twenty surgeons and eight anaesthetists were in the theatre at various points through this rare miraculous 15-hour surgery. Major Rahim was told before the surgery that the hands are darker than his skin, but all he wanted was to have functioning hands again, and be able to live on his own rather than being dependent. 

The first time Mr Joseph’s daughter met Rahim after the transplant she said: “I looked at him, and I was so sad at first, because I was reminded of how I had lost my father. But then, when I touched his hands, I was happy. I felt like some part of my father was still alive.”

Major Rahim meets the late Joseph’s daughter and wife. Dr Iyer is in blue shirt.

Major Rahim became very emotional and thanked her and the family profusely. In gratitude, Major Rahim would visit Kochi every year to meet Joseph’s family.

People were amazed at humanity which surpassed all religious divides, as a Hindu surgeon took a Christian man’s hands and put them on a Muslim man.

Dr Iyer remarked: “This interpretation is a good message. But I can tell you that, when it was all happening, no one gave it a thought. Everyone just did what they felt was right.”

Unfortunately Major Abdul Rahim died in a bomb blast in Kabul on February 19, 2020. Tears for the departed soul were shed in far way Ernakulam district of Kerala by a Christian Kerala family. Mr Joseph’s family was saddened and shocked to have lost him.

Organ donation is an opportunity to give life to others. Life of recipients changes when a dying person donates  his/her organs. Factors such as religion and the attitudes of older family members can discourage donation. We have to change this wrong perception.

Becoming a donor is a noble and generous way to celebrate the unique capacity of your physical body to share health and give life irrespective of colour, caste, creed and religion.

Featured Image: Wife happy to touch the hands of her departed beloved husband Joseph, being used by Major Rahim after he lost his own in a blast!

Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi, a paediatrician with over 50 years’ experience, is an educationist and researcher, with over 100 research publications, mainly on social paediatrics in renowned medical journals. Ex-Professor and Head of Department of Paediatrics, MGIMS Sevagram, Wardha, she is a thinker, writer, poet, artist and a spiritual blogger with over 500 blogs to her credit. Dr Chaturvedi is also a keen traveller, music and nature lover.

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