A Debt We Owe

I think it is a privilege that the modern era has given us the possibility that we, as humans, can share the gift of life with another human being, and offer the greatest chance that one can ever get in their times of need.”

Dr Vrishali Patil, Consultant Multi Organ Transplant Surgeon, is a strong advocate of organ donation programmes. She has been mentoring ReBirth right from its nascent stages. “For every good act that one wants to do, one needs a medium without which the thought remains just a thought. ReBirth is a team formed by noble, selfless, generous-minded members and they provide a worthy platform for the cause of organ donation. It is a perfect platform for us to fulfil our social responsibility and I offer my experience and skills to achieve its goals. Team ReBirth approached me and I am fortunate to have been connected with them.”

Dr Patil earned her medical degree from the University of Pune. After completing her residency, she did a higher specialised training in Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery in the UK and US followed by Transplant Surgery fellowships at both Henry Ford Hospital and at the University of Wisconsin. She has also done a post-doctoral fellowship in Solid Organ Transplant at the Strong Memorial Hospital University of Rochester, NY. She is Board Certified by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons in Transplant Surgery. Her clinical specialties are Liver, Kidney, Pancreas, Small Bowel, and multi-organ transplants. She recollects, “Since 2007, when I had to go for organ procurement during my transplant surgery training, I came across the wonderful generosity of families who had agreed for organ donation. I spent some time understanding them and the process of organ donation. This inspired me to be a part of the movement.”

Western India’s first simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant was performed by Dr Vrishali Patil.

“We, the transplant and organ donation community and the society at large, are seeing the living examples of the resurrection of life in our transplant recipient(s) and their families as they live a life that they would not have, had they not received the organ.”

She walks down the memory lane, “Some incidents leave a permanent imprint in your being. For me, every organ donation is memorable and is etched in my memory as if it happened yesterday.”

“Take the case of this 14-year-old footballer who donated his organs – his parents refuse to garland his frame. They reason that their son is not dead but continues to live in the hearts and body of his recipients.” Dr Patil’s face reflects the wonder as she reminisces.

Pune currently shows a two-digit figure of organ donations. Dr Patil believes that proper awareness can transform organ donations into a four-digit figure.

“Awareness must be created not only at non emergent times but also in crucial times.”

Many hospitals have counsellors who are trained in handling tragedy, and understanding grief and sorrow. Counsellors talk through the fear and allow the family to make an unbiased decision whether to opt or not for organ donation. “ReBirth, as an NGO, is creating awareness in its own unique way,” notes Dr Patil.

Another way that shows gratefulness for the donor is felicitation. Dr Patil says “Organ donor families should not feel that they’ve been left empty-handed post organ donation. We must understand their difficulties. The least we can do is appreciate and felicitate their decision.” 

Dr Patil recounts a particular incident – “The parents of a 2-year-old little boy asked if I would pray with them, and ensure that their little boy would have a gentle handling and respectful surgery and that their little boy’s organs would be successful in his recipients and that he would live forever.”

Organ donation is unparalleled in its importance of gifting. It is the greatest legacy one can ever leave behind. “I distinctly remember the joy on the faces of a donor family when informed that the organs recovered were healthy and would revive 3 people who were at the end of their lives.”

Other than professionally working for the endeavour of gifting lives through organ transplants, Dr Patil supports ReBirth wholeheartedly. “Team ReBirth is doing an admirable job and I pray they continue doing the good work. I am impressed with their humility and the gracious nature of each member of the team. Their selflessness, their enthusiasm and due diligence that they have while working is heart-warming. It is rarely that one comes across such committed group of unique individuals.”

Dr Patil concludes on a hard-hitting opinion, “I feel that it is a debt we owe to humanity to sign up for organ donation. Why is one born with a healthy life and the other is born or suffers from a disease that is life threatening? These questions are hard to comprehend. But as someone who has enjoyed the wonderful gifts of healthy organs, don’t we have a social responsibility to help the ones in need, especially when it comes at no cost, no loss to us or to our family?”

Dr Vrishali Patil Consultant Multi Organ Transplant Surgeon
(Liver, Pancreas Kidney Transplant)
Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital

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