CPI-M activist donated body for medical research

Shimla: “Why burn a body when you can donate it for a cause”, was the reasoning, 21 year Anjana, a medical student in Tanda Medical College in Kangra gave to her uncle Baldev Verma, 63, who was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months ago in the Indira Gandhi Medical College and State Hospital.

Baldev Verma, a CPI-M activist, who died early today morning was from the remote village of Bhangari in Nohradhar Tehsil in Sirmaur district and has become one of the first persons in the hill state to donate not only his eyes but the entire body for the bio-medical researches.

“My uncle was convinced only when I told him that there were just three bodies in Tanda Medical College for more than 100 students to study human anatomy”, said Dr Anjana who was present during the donation rites today in the State run IGMC hospital.

His body which he had pledged to give to Tanda Medical College was to be brought to IGMC because of time constraint, since my uncle had to donate his eyes also and the viability of eye cornea lasts only for 6 hours after death, she said.

“Due to bad weather we had to bring his body to Shimla instead of taking it to Kangra”, said Kapil, younger son of Verma.

At least three vehicles were to be changed on the way because of bad roads and incessant rains, he added.

The full donation of a cadaver willingly by the family members was a first instance in Himachal, said Dr Digvijay Singh of Tanda Medical College.

He said only 20 percent of people who have pledged their bodies for anatomy research are able to reach hospitals after death. Difficult geographical terrains, distances and socio-religious decisions are discouraging people to contribute in this great cause, he said.

Ramesh Verma the younger of brother departed Baldev Verma said he had a tough time in convincing village people and their 82 year old father Ujjagar Singh to honour the last resolve of Baldev Verma to donate his body to a hospital.

Because of pressure from villagers and for breaking village traditions, Ramesh Verma could not accompany the body of his brother and had to stay back and convince the neighbours and family members at home.

Ramesh Verma who is also Sirmaur Kisan Sabha President over phone said “by and large people are appreciating the move though some of them are expressing a shock that how last rites of a person are not performed despite having such a big family”.

The biggest State hospital in the capital IGMC is having just five dead bodies and Tanda College has only three bodies (all unclaimed) in their Anatomy departments for the students to study the human composition. Private medical colleges also complain of shortage of dead bodies everywhere.

The bodies after post mortem and accidental and mutilated bodies cannot be used for study purposes. Some of the hospitals including the PGI in Chandigarh have also started a helpline to donate bodies.

State CPI-M expressing grief over the death of Verma hat the same time appreciated the feelings and generosity of his family members.

“There should be a firm policy and better facilities for the willing body donors who are living in tough terrains of the hill State”, said Dr Kuldip Tanwar, senior State CPM leader.

KY Singh is a political observer and a senior journalist with an interest in a diverse set of issues related to Himachal Pradesh and other mountain states. He lives in Shimla.

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