MY STORY: I Knew a Man Who Fought Legal Battles to Donate His Body. That Man Was My Father.

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K.R.Srinivasan, father of Ranganathan.K.S, was driven by an obsession to donate his body for medical research. This is the story of a father as narrated by his son – his story of determination and passion for a very noble cause.

“Now I can die in peace.”

This is what a septuagenarian told his stunned son and daughter-in-law after a hectic and gruelling trip from Kanpur to Lucknow and back, all on one hot summer day.

This is the story of a gentleman who was driven by an obsession to donate his body for medical research; the story of my father – K.R.Srinivasan.

body donation in india

My father took several steps to ensure that he would be able to donate his body for medical research after his death. I am not sure when this idea of donation came to his mind. But if I remember correctly, it was when he was a student and visited the Madras Medical College where he observed an ongoing class on limb dissection. About 30 odd students had to study with the help of one single limb. That incident planted the seed of this desire to donate his body for medical research.

He used to spend six summer months in Kanpur with me, and the remaining six months away from the biting cold of the city, in the pleasant weather of Chennai. This was because winters didn’t suit my mother who was an asthma patient.

He first got the permission to donate his body in J J Hospital, Mumbai. But he was in Chennai, and did not want people to face any problems when sending his body to a different city.

So he filed a petition in Chennai High Court, and after a legal battle that went on for about 10 years, he got the permission to donate his body to Ramachandra Medical College.

But there was one obstacle.

“I am spending six months in Kanpur, and six in Chennai. What is the guarantee that I will kick the bucket in Chennai only? If I pass away in Kanpur, you will have to take a lot of trouble of sending my body to Chennai,” he told me one day.

I suggested that he should explore the possibility of donating at Kanpur Medical College as well. The college is at walking distance from our residence at Vishnupuri. Without wasting any time, he set out to meet the dean of the college and explained his situation. The dean said that it was not in his jurisdiction to accept the donation, and he should meet the Secretary of Health Services instead, who was stationed in Lucknow at that time.

Lucknow is about 75 km from our residence, and the scorching summer heat in Kanpur did not stop my father for even one moment. Hiring a taxi, he set out to meet the Secretary. He expressed his long cherished desire of donating his body, and got the necessary permission in writing addressed to the dean of Kanpur Medical College.

Satisfied with his efforts, my father handed over the letter to the dean and then coming back to my place, said – “Now I can die in peace.”

19 years after that day, he died on July 2, 2002, and his body was donated at the Ramachandra Medical College. I was transferred to Chennai by then, and was able to spend the last 10 years of his life with him. He was so passionate about this donation, that even a week before he passed away, he told me that he has arranged for the ambulance to come and take his body, and all I need to do is call one number and everything will be taken care of.

My father was a very orthodox person who could spend about three hours in pujas every day, and at the same time, he was also the trustee of a temple. There was a lot of talk about his decision at that time. The priests were saying that such a thing is not acceptable because it is not mentioned in our Vedas and Shastras, and people will be reluctant to perform his last rites because the body will not be there.

But he said – “Look, I am not bothered about it. This is what I want to do. What happens after my body is donated is none of my business.”

This was his last wish, and I made sure that it was completed as he would have wanted.

– Ranganathan.K.S

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