On 10th August 2020, MOHAN Foundation organised its fourth panel discussion as part of its series, ‘Synchrony Dialogues,’ launched on 12th June 2020. These discussions were live streamed on the Foundation’s YouTube, Facebook (1.6K views), and Twitter pages to reach out to the general public. This discussion titled ‘Igniting Young Minds’ was in association with CII Young Indians.

The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Sumana Navin, Course Director, MOHAN Foundation. The young panelists were – Mr. Aditya Iyer, Ms. Ananya Jain, Ms. Anushka Kumar, Ms. Divya Jairam, Ms. Mahak Batra, Ms. Radhika Joshi, Mr. Rohan Yadav, Ms. Shreya Siddanagowder and Ms. Sreelakshmi.V

A short video clip was first shown to the audience on “Interventions to augment deceased organ donation in India by MOHAN Foundation.” Dr. Sumana then introduced the panelists and gave a brief outline about the work being done by each panelist.

Ms. Shreya shared about the challenges she faced before receiving her transplant and her experience with prosthetics. She mentioned that she was celebrating her three- year anniversary with her new hands. Through her own story, she wants to advocate about hand donation and organ donation throughout India. She feels that if sufficient awareness is spread then one day India will be ready to follow the opt- out policy.

Ms. Anushka shared her inspiration in creating the logo for TRIOMPH (Transplant Recipients of India and Organ failure Patients – a Movement to Provide Hope) Patient Support Group. She wanted the logo to connect with people and have an instant call to action. A part of the logo is similar to an African philosophy sign called ‘Ubuntu’ meaning ‘I am because we are.’ With regard to India being ready for the opt- out system, she feels that the system has to be very robust.

Ms. Radhika shared how her personal experience in the family led her to start “The Second Chance Project.” She formed a team with her friends to advocate the cause through street plays, setting up information desks various other creative ideas such as the organ donation apron. The need of the hour is awareness. There are a lot of challenges with respect to the healthcare system, but one can be hopeful that the opt- out system can be implemented in the near future. Spain for example took almost a decade to implement the opt- out system. Initially, her family was also hesitant because of all the organ trafficking articles but they soon understood its importance.

Mr. Aditya along with his mother understood that many people were not aware of the concept of organ donation. This led him and his mom to go one step ahead and do their part in spreading awareness by creating a Facebook page titled ‘Live Beyond Life.’ He feels the reason opt out system has been successful in various other countries is because their nationalised health services are very good. In India, public hospitals are not well maintained like private hospitals, this could be a reason people hesitate to donate. Countries that are successful in having the opt- out system have governments that invest rightly in their medical system. He agrees awareness begins with the family and his were quite open-minded, he highlights that even his grandparents have pledged for organ donation.

Ms. Ananya’s grandmother was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and this motivated Ananya to take the plunge to start an Instagram account and website along with a few of her friends. In Hong Kong, there is a lack of awareness about organ donation. More people need to come forward and share their story to bust myths. Her family is very accepting of organ donation but she understands that there are many families who are not. Talking about success stories and how lives have changed could help.

Ms. Mahak’s cousin has been suffering from paraplegia and not much could be done from their side. She started an Instagram page to talk about various causes. She put up a video explaining organ donation which caught the attention of a lot of viewers. She said that India needs to be handheld and prepared to be ready when the opt-out system is followed. She shared that explaining to her parents about the cause was the first step, “they were hesitant in the first place, they agreed eventually.”

Mr. Rohan, after he attended the Angels of Change volunteer training, wanted to help others get more clarity in the questions he once had. Organ Donation cannot just happen by having more money or literacy, there needs to be more awareness. Before coming to a conclusion about a system (including India being ready to follow the opt -out system), we need to focus on having more organisations and people coming forward to speak to make India ready. He shared how his mom is still not for the cause of organ donation because she feels when you talk about death you bring bad luck to yourself. He emphasised that we need to normalise the conversation.

Ms. Sreelakshmi read a newspaper article on organ donation that was an eye-opener to her, this made her spread the message through various programmes, competitions and so on in the UAE and Kerala. She has also started a ‘No Tobacco’ campaign to spread awareness. She also feels that India needs to become more aware of the cause to accept the opt-out system. Her parents readily accepted to pledge and when she turned 18, pledging to donate was the first thing she did.

Ms. Divya was only 6 years old when her mother received a kidney from her grandmother. She said that it was only years later that she understood what her mother went through and how lucky she was. She is presently helping out with TRIOMPH because she understands how it would help other families get their questions clarified. With regard to spreading awareness, it’s not just the public but it even includes the medical professionals who are not aware of organ donation. India has advanced as compared to 30 years ago. Awareness is essential, this would help the public get comfortable if and when the opt-out system is implemented in India.