Just the way imprisonment is deemed as the corrective measure to convict a person for a felony; there should be no reason for the society to believe that the crime which leads to a person’s detention should define them for a lifetime.
Alone and isolated from the rest of the world, a prison term often opens up room for contemplation and repentance, which can result in reformed behaviour and good conduct in some of the most hardened inmates.
P Sukumaran’s story is an excellent example of such a transformation, and thanks to him 21-year-old Princy Thankachan will now have a second shot at life.
Back in 2015, when Sukumaran was out on parole, he learned about a man named Sreekumar, who was in dire need of kidney transplant. Sukumaran decided to help him, going as far to accompany him to the hospital. Upon testing, he was found to be a perfect match, but sadly, due to legal impediments that did not allow prisoners to donate organs, even to their own family member, the transplant did not happen and 24-year-old passed away.
The unfortunate incident prompted Sukumaran to write numerous letters to jail and government officials to consider prisoners for organ donation. But there wasn’t any existing provision under which they could do so.
However, that changed with the Kerala cabinet’s landmark decision in January 2018, which allows prisoners to donate their organs. It is believed that Sukumaran’s case played an imperative role in the passing of the verdict.
“Ente kayyondu oru jeevitham nashtapettu (A life was lost at my hands). When I went to jail, my family was shattered. So if I can, in any way, prevent someone from dying, that family will be saved,” 46-year-old Sukumaran told The Indian Express.
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Sukumaran had been sentenced to life for the murder of his uncle due to accidental circumstances in 2007 and had been serving his sentence in Kannur Central Jail before he was transferred to an open jail in Thiruvananthapuram for good conduct. For the very same reason, a state High Court judge even shortened his term to seven years, because of which he was released in July last year.
Thanks to the new provision, Princy will receive a kidney from Sukumaran at a private hospital in Kochi later this month. Hailing from a financially downtrodden household, which has a history of kidney-related disorders, the young woman thinks of Sukumaran as a fatherly figure, who came to her rescue during the darkest moments of her life.
“Although both of us live far from Kochi, where the surgery is due, he would always come an hour early for tests and would get me water, run around for medicines and bills. He calls me Ammu. He’s like my father. At a time when I had no hope, I had the chance to know him. He’s giving me a part of his life,” said Princy, whose kidneys failed almost three years ago.
The surgery is quite expensive, and Princy’s family will be unable to afford it, but the residents and ward councillors in her neighbourhood are lending support by pooling in money to finance her surgery, through a joint bank account.