Grief Counselors:The Life of Organ Donation

Niveditha, a 5 year old girl who saved her father’s life… Sounds almost impossible, doesn’t it? In a world where parents are supposed to be the caregivers, this girl was fated to rent out her kidney to her father, a severe kidney patient. “Niveditha was met with a horrible accident at such a young age with no signs of improvement even after undergoing a serious surgery and was unfortunately declared brain dead”, said the on-call doctor. “We almost immediately were informed that her father was a priority patient on the kidney transplant list. As devastating as it was, we had no other option than consulting our Grief Counselors about the situation. The counselor observed the grieving family closely, informed them of their daughter’s condition and he made them realize that their daughter will continue to live through her father if they do decide on Organ Donation.”

The Grief Counselors in the hospital are not only trained in all aspects like legal, ethical, medical and soft skills, but also have the heartbreaking task of talking to the families of those who have faced an uncalled accident or injury. A Grief Counselor is the most crucial aspect of Organ Donation. Only a person who has the courage and passion to save lives can be in this profession. Grief is always unsolicited; that is how humans walk through life. But to hold the grief of others and lend them a helping hand – is the destiny of counselors.

Are you still wondering what the counselors go through and whether they always get the expected result? To be vividly honest, no. They do not always get the result that they were aiming for. But do not confuse religious and societal beliefs with illiteracy. A thorough survey and research suggests that education has a very little connection with the rejection of Organ Donation.

“We have seen rich, graduated people denying donation because they believe that going to heaven with missing organs, results in being reborn with lesser organs. We also had a wife of a brain dead 35 year old male, who was the perfect match for the transplant recipient. The wife refused to donate because her relatives threatened her. She
keenly apologized to the recipient’s family, mentioning how her family was her only emotional support after her husband”, reported a Grief Counselor. “Our work gets harder with the passing day. Grief passes the human souls in stages; understanding the stage of grief that the families are in, is essentially a vital asset. We have to explain what
‘brain dead’ is and tell them that there is a heartbeat only because of a ventilator. Once they agree, we stay with them till the body is handed over.”

The battles of a Grief Counselor are respect worthy. Even with the difficulties and failures of organ donation, we have seen a success rate of 60% of people agreeing to donate, only after being met with a counselor. Counselors understand the situation and the pain, which makes it easier for the grieving families to consent to Organ Donation. Most of the people who are in severe pain tend to speak well. The medical experts also say that most of the credit goes to the
counselors, that their work is to manage the science, but the counselors have to manage real human emotions. Organ Donation is reaching its desired and needed height of recognition because of the Grief Counselors. The demand for trained counselors and coordinators is increasing as the number of hospitals that register for transplant is going up.

The way you and I look at life may be different, but the lives of recipients and donors are the same- medical checkups, ER’s, connections with all the nurses, waiting for a call from their transplant surgeon, battling depression. Recipients know the number of days that they have, as if their lifespan was a sudden death wish. It is not a matter of life and death; It is a matter of #LifeForLife.

Let us all hope that Organ Donation will soon be seen as a way of flourishing new lives rather than as the destroyer of death.

“Because I had no time to stop for death,
It stopped for me.
Just like a butterfly wing,
As high as a kite,
I watch from above.
Blessed as a petal,
I feel glad.
Glad that my family has you.

To understand their grief,
To guide them through
My new journey.
I know you can hear me;
Can you tell them that
I wish to be reborn as
Someone else’s laughter
Or tears?
That my heart or my
Kidney never belonged to me
It always belonged to the
Life of humans.
You are the connection
Between us;
Our anchor.
Thank you for keeping us
Even if it is for a little while.”

– a wishful donor to be

– Manaswi Patil