Assam Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in response to a complaint by Ellora Vigyan Mancha against the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) for not accepting a cadaver which had been donated for medical studies recently, said that he would process the request for cadavers to be accepted by medical colleges.
The Mancha in its complaint signed by Chandra Mohan Sarma, president, and Kamaljit Gupta, general secretary demanded that the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Assam should issue instructions to all the medical colleges in the State to make arrangements for carrying/bringing donated bodies to the concerned colleges from the residence or place of death of the deceased (as the case may be) with due respect and dignity if informed by the next-of-kin. In the event of the failure of the authorities to bring bodies due to certain valid grounds, the transportation expenses should be borne by the concerned medical colleges/authorities.
In the absence of written documents expressing ‘last will’ of the deceased to donate his/her posthumous body for medical purpose, the next-of-kin of the deceased should be allowed to donate the body without any hindrance if they desire to do so.
The Mancha sought that necessary infrastructure for organ preservation and transplantation be immediately be built up and developed in the State. It also stated that “organ preservation and transplantation centres” be established in the medical colleges of the State to popularise organ donation.
Referring to news reports in connection with the death of an eminent citizen of Jorhat, late Nityananda Mahanta, on July 7, the organisation engaged in promotion of science and scientific temper in its complaint drew the minister’s attention to two incidents in which Jorhat Medical College JMC) authorities had shown “callous and negative attitude” towards posthumous body donation for the cause of medical education and enrichment of medical science.
Narrating an incident, the Manch stated that Nityananda Mahanta (83 yrs), an eminent artist of Jorhat town, had died of cardiac arrest on July 7. He pledged through ‘last will’ that his cadaver could be utilized by the Department of Anatomy, JMC for students pursuing medical education.
The letter said that in deference to his last wishes, the next-of-kin of late Nityananda Mahanta had contacted the authorities of JMC and requested them to accept the body.
However, as reported in a section of media, the authorities of the JMC expressed inability to accept the body on various pretexts. Finally, the body had to be cremated at Tarajan cremation ground in Jorhat town.
However, no clarification has been issued by the JMC authorities till date.
The Mancha referred to another similar incident which had occurred on March 22, 2018 which also indicated the “apathetic and negative attitude on the part of JMC authorities in respect to body donation”. This case referred to late Nabin Bora, a prominent citizen and socio-cultural and literary activist of Jorhat town breathed his last on the midnight of 21-22 March. After his death, the next-of-kin of late Nabin Bora brought the body to the JMC for donation as desired by the deceased through his ‘last will’.
“However, to our utter surprise, the Principal and the Head of the Department of Anatomy, JMC created obstacles and abnormally delayed the entire process in formally handing over the body. It took full seven hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 22 to receive the body. The grief-stricken family members had a harrowing experience to fulfill the last wishes of the deceased Nabin Borah due to non-cooperation and negative attitude of the concerned authorities,” the complaint stated. The JMC authorities delayed the entire process.
The Mancha said that the Principal and the Head of the Department of Anatomy, JMC had not only shown disrespect to the deceased, but also discouraged body and organ donations in the State.
In this context the Mancha sought immediate intervention of Sarma and urged him to inquire into the matter and take steps against the Principal and the erring officials of the JMC.
The Ellora Vigyan Mancha has been organising campaigns and encouraging people to donate blood, cornea, other organs and bodies, etc. since its inception in May, 2004.