The first-ever deceased organ donation in Northeast India took place in Manipur on Wednesday.
After Sarungbam Kennedy Singh, 42, was diagnosed with brain stem death, his mother and wife from Chingamathak Nameirakpam Leikai in Imphal West bravely decided to donate their loved one's organs amid grief and heartache.
In the process, two patients with end-stage kidney illness received both of his kidneys as a transplant, giving them a new lease on life, Prof Laishram Deben Singh, Director, JNIMS said in a release on Wednesday.
Kennedy, a father of two boys, was admitted with multiple episodes of seizure and vomiting to Kripadashini Advanced Hospital, Palace Compound, Imphal. During his stay at the hospital, his condition deteriorated, and he showed hypoxic brain injury.
On August 2, 2023, he was referred to Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS), Porompat, Imphal for further clinical management, Prof Deben Singh said.
JNIMS, Porompat, is the first government medical institute to perform organ transplant in Manipur. Since May 2022, JNIMS has performed a total of 27 living kidney transplants, the director informed. Most of the recipients and donors are from the poor family and availed the benefit of the health insurance scheme of the government namely Ayushman Bharat (PM-JAY) and Chief Minister's Hakshelgi Tengbang (CMHT), he added.
Since many patients on the waiting list do not have family members who are qualified to donate a kidney, efforts have been made to start the deceased donation programme. Kennedy was certified as having passed both rounds of testing for brain stem death by the State Brain Death Committee on August 2, 2023, at which point the family was given the choice of organ donation, the director said.
"He always wanted to help people in any way he could, and the selfless help he gave to others was commendable." said Sarungbam Amusana Devi, mother of the organ donor.
"Even though we were unable to rescue him and we still can't get over the shock of losing him, we want to help others by donating his organs. By our choice, his soul will continue to rest in peace," his wife said, her voice filled with sorrow, as per the release from the director of JNIMS.
In the first of its kind, the Transplant Team of JNIMS successfully retrieved both the kidneys from the deceased donor. In the best interest of organ sharing, one kidney was transplanted at JNIMS and the other was transplanted at Shija Hospitals & Research Institute, Langol, after following organ allocation protocols, the director informed.
A green corridor was created to transport the organ from JNIMS to Shija Hospital with hassle-free traffic covering 7.5 kms in 12 minutes. The Imphal East & Imphal West police cooperated with the situation. MOHAN Foundation team, a national NGO working since 1997 to promote deceased organ donation, counselled the wife and the mother.
"It is indeed very heartening to know that Imphal has had its first deceased organ donation. In fact, it's the first donation in all of Northeast India. It is very encouraging to see how people in our country are always coming forward for such noble acts and is a strong indication of community solidarity. This brave and generous act by the mother and wife of late Mr. Sarungbam Kennedy Singh will pave the way forward for many such life saving donations." Said Dr. Anil Kumar, Director, NOTTO (National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation), the apex body for organ donation and transplantation in India.
"Those who donate organs are blessed as they give others a second life and it is up to you to pass your life to someone who is in dire need" said Prof. Laishram Deben Singh.