Tag Archives: organ donation

2021: A year of Love, Labour and Loss

Love is a mystery. Love is unitive. Love is how we connect as human beings with one another and with the whole universe together. Love is how we learn, how we become better, and make the world a better place to live, for us and others. Love needs freedom to breathe, equality to thrive, and openness to flow and grow. Love is personal, political, sexual, philosophical, social, historical, metaphysical, transcendental, et al. Sadly, we have only one word to describe an emotion so complex. The ancient Greeks had six different words, but even that’s not enough. 2021 taught me new ways to describe the complexity of love and its various hues. Love lost on many counts, but like a phoenix, it miraculously sprang on a few occasions. My vocabulary of LOVE was defined and redefined by people who touched my life one way or another this year.

shillpi a singh

LOVE IS GRIEF: Dr Amit Gupta

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Lao Tzu

While graduating from a medical school, like others of his ilk, Dr Amit Gupta, 39, must have also taken the Hippocratic oath to consecrate his life to the service of humanity and make the health of his patient his first consideration. Little did he know that years later, the oath would be put to test by COVID-19. Dr Gupta is one among those 1,492 doctors, who lived every word of this pledge while being on duty during the first and second waves in India and sadly succumbed to coronavirus infection, according to data released by the Indian Medical Association earlier this year. They are our frontline health workers, our real-life heroes who bravely served their patients without caring for their lives and eventually lost the battle for breath.


It was on April 18, 2021, senior resident Dr Gupta of Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra Hospital (SRCH) in Narela, New Delhi, returned home after being on duty for 80 hours at a stretch. He was doing his job with utmost sincerity. The second wave of COVID-19 was at its peak. Clad in a PPE suit in that sweltering heat, he was there in the hospital, round the clock, and contracted COVID-19 while serving other patients. In spite of his busy schedule, he never forgot to check on others in his family and friend circle who were COVID infected, sending them medical advice and medications as well. The hospitals across the country were fast running out of beds, and oxygen cylinders were scarce, but the doctors were still keeping their chin up and busy fighting the war against the deadly virus, clinging on to hope to save as many lives as possible.
Dr Gupta was initially hospitalised at SRCH for a few days, and then at a private hospital in his neighbourhood, and from there moved to Medanta Gurgaon. The virus had severely damaged his lungs by then. The doctors suggested that he required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support. His family decided to take him to a hospital in Secunderabad early in May.
Meanwhile, on May 18, 2021, Delhi government health minister Satyendar Jain announced that “the state government would bear the entire cost of treatment because Corona warriors are our strength.”

The Hon’ble minister’s promise gave Dr Gupta’s family immense support, but the official procedures were tardy, and the clearance of bills took longer than usual. The family was back to square one. They were still running helter and skelter, borrowing money from friends, relatives to meet this unforeseen medical emergency. “We spent our entire savings, took huge loans to cater to the medical expenses. Desperate for financial assistance, we even started a fundraising campaign, till the state government cleared a part of the promised amount, and that too after National Human Rights Commission’s intervention,” says his wife, Dr Srishti Mittal.

LOVE IS GRIEF: Dr Srishti Mittal and Dr Amit Gupta

Dr Gupta’s deteriorating condition and the mounting expenses were a cause of concern for the family, but they hoped for the better. “That may be the treatment would work, and he would be fit as a fiddle, if not today, maybe tomorrow for sure. We took loans from all possible quarters hoping to return when the Government would clear our bills because they had promised to do so,” adds Mittal.

The treating doctors in Secunderabad advised lung transplant, and the family left no stone unturned to arrange the organ. The transplant was successful, but the post-operation complications bothered the recovery of Dr Gupta. After a courageous four-month-long battle, he gave up and left for his heavenly abode on August 14, 2021. He is survived by his wife, son, and elderly parents.


Dr Mittal has resumed duty at SRCH, serving patients just like before, deeply engrossed in work, working in shifts, and living up to the Hippocratic oath. It is the same place where she once worked with her life partner, Dr Gupta. Her co-traveller abandoned the journey mid-way, leaving her all alone to put up a strong fight on all fronts, professional as well as personal, but that hasn’t deterred her. She is fighting to clear the debts amounting to Rs 1 crore 67 lakh by following up with the government officials, and once that is done, she will live on for the couple’s little boy and his elderly parents.

Her decision to return to work at SRCH is perhaps a way to beat the deep grief that is like a river — ebbs and flows. It is the last act of love that we give to our loved ones. It is never one thing. It deposits the memory of the past as sediments one day; it eats it away as a shark the next. But it is never one thing. Grief is but non-linear, spread over as carpet of our desire kept under the circumstances: grief ebbs and flows.

Grief is like love. It is a burden and a privilege as well. It is the ache of longing for all that is lost but seeing through the darkness of death, Dr Srishti Mittal is living with gratitude for the gift of time and love she shared with Dr Amit Gupta, and that alone gives her the courage to live on.

Liver transplant gives a new lease of life to 36-year-old Kolhapur man who was waitlisted since July 2019

On new year’s eve, doctors at Fortis Hospital in Mulund, Mumbai, conducted fourth cadaveric liver transplant of 2020; the donor was a 60-year-old woman from Pune who had suffered a fatal Acute Subarachnoid Hemorrhage.

Mumbai, December 31, 2020: On the new year’s eve, doctors at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Mumbai, gave a new lease of life to a 36-year-old man, who runs a small store in Kolhapur. The recipient was waitlisted for a liver transplant in July 2019 after being diagnosed with Alcoholic Liver Disease; a liver transplant was his only option.

The donor, a 60-year old female from Pune, was rushed to a local hospital; she had suffered a fatal Acute Subarachnoid Hemorrhage; she was subsequently declared brain dead. Doctors and Medical Social Workers counselled her family, who readily consented to donate her liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, intestines and corneas. With immense effort and astute time management, the retrieval procedure was initiated.

A green corridor was meticulously laid out between Pune and Mumbai so the harvested liver could be transported to Fortis Hospital, Mulund. The donor is survived by her husband, son, and a daughter, who breathed a new life into a young recipient from Kolhapur.

Dr Gaurav Gupta, Sr. Consultant & Chief Surgeon – Liver Transplant & HPB Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, said, “We are happy to have been able to give our young recipient a new chance at life, and we are extremely humbled by the donor family’s gesture that enabled this life-saving surgery. It is heartening to see that families are continuing to respond warmly to the cause of organ donation even during the pandemic. While the fear of virus looms large, such stories continue to ignite hope within all of us.”

Thanking the donor, Dr S. Narayani, Zonal Director, Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai, said, “I extremely thankful of the donor family who made this courageous decision in the time of profound grief. I must thank the medical teams, nurses, Medical Social Workers, Mumbai Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre, Traffic Police, and Transplant Coordinators who enabled this feat. Each successful donation is one progressive step towards building a better and robust organ donation system in India.”

Mumbai’s 29th cadaveric donation by 56-year-old woman helps save 4 lives

It was the first to be conducted at Fortis Hospital in Mulund after the lockdown was announced on March 22, 2020; the harvested lungs, liver and kidneys were sent to four hospitals across Mumbai and the corneas were sent to a local Eye Bank.

Mumbai, December 7, 2020: Mumbai witnessed its 29th cadaveric donation at Fortis Hospital, Mulund on December 2, 2020, when the family of a 56-year-old brain dead patient consented to donate their kin’s lungs, liver, corneas and kidneys. The family’s noble act of giving helped give a new lease of life to four patients with end-stage organ failure; and would enable two people to receive the gift of eyesight. The harvested organs were sent to four hospitals across Mumbai. This donation marked Mumbai’s 29th and Fortis Hospital, Mulund’s first since the lockdown was first implemented in March 2020.
The female donor was declared brain dead at Fortis Hospital, Mulund on December 2, 2020, following a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. The patient, from Badlapur, Thane, had sustained a fall at home, after which she was rushed to Fortis Hospital, Mulund. The family was counselled and informed consent was sought. The donor is survived by her husband, a son and three daughters.
Speaking about this feat, Dr S. Narayani, Zonal Director, Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai, says, “It is heartening to see that families are continuing to respond warmly to the cause of organ donation, even during the pandemic, as the fear of the virus looms large. This is a gigantic leap towards helping patients with organ failure, who have had longer time on the waitlist, owing to the pandemic. We express our heartfelt gratitude to the donor family, and to our doctors, nurses, Medical Social Workers and administrative staff who enabled the donation, and subsequent transplants”.
According to Dr Bharat Shah, general secretary, Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC), Mumbai, the medical team and transplant coordinator of Fortis team must be congratulated for diagnosing brain-stem death and counselling the family. “All the donated organs were successfully transplanted in four patients with end stage organ failure. This goes on to show that even the recipients are now coming out of fear of COVID pandemic and are willing to go for transplant during this pandemic. There is no need for potential recipients to fear COVID,” he says. The ZTCC has made robust guidelines which are strictly followed by all medical teams. With this, the risk of recipients contracting COVID infection is negligible.
Appreciating the kindness of the the family of deceased donor who came forward to save lives of four patients unknown to them, Dr S.K. Mathur, President, ZTCC, Mumbai, says, “If more people start following their example, then slowly the current dependence on live organ donations can be reduced.”

(Featured Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)