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16-month baby girl becomes India's youngest cadaver donor

Posted Jun 02 2009 4:38pm

NEW DELHI: After losing their 16-month-old daughter Abhilasha, to a serious liver ailment, her parents couldn't just let her die. Wanting her spirit to live on in others, they donated her organs, making her India's youngest cadaver donor.

The little girl from Bhopal suffered from a serious liver condition known as Biliary Atresia since birth. Just three months old, she underwent a complicated procedure in Bangalore to correct the disconnect between her liver and intestine. Her doctors then referred her to the Apollo Hospital here to undergo a liver transplant.

"Abhilasha and her parents came to us from Bhopal for a liver transplant but a CT scan of her brain revealed that she was suffering with Hydrocephalus -- meaning that the fluid was rising in her brain. We couldn't perform the transplant," Anupam Sibal, Abhilasha's doctor and medical director of Apollo Hospitals, told reporters.

"Her neurological condition had to be resolved before a liver transplant could be offered. But sadly, due to her worsening liver function and deterioration in her neurological condition, she could not undergo a transplant," Sibal said.

After Abhilasha was declared brain dead on Feb 28, her parents decided to donate her organs.

The hospital had arranged for condolence ceremony on Monday, "saluting the spirit of Abhilasha and her parents".

"It was a difficult decision. But we knew she was gone and were not hesitant. With this donation, she has carried on...taking the essence of life beyond death," Vineeta, who was to be Abhilasha's liver donor herself, said.

Abhilasha's father Rajendra said in her "small life" she had managed to achieve a "big" deal.

"Being a father, I am deeply saddened. But am happy and content knowing what she achieved. She made it possible for others to live a happier life. We have kept her soul alive," said Rajendra, cradling Abhilasha's 3-year-old sister Ashlesha in his lap.

Abhilasha's two kidneys, her corneas and her skin tissues were used to help others, doctors said.

Apollo hospitals group's founding chairman Pratap C Reddy hailed the decision of Abhilasha's parents.

"They have taken a very courageous step. In this country, we need to see more such acts of courage. There is an acute shortage of donors and awareness is lax," Reddy said.

Ever since the Human Organ Transplant Act was passed in 1994 in the country, making it possible to receive transplants from brain dead donors, there has been little progress in the country's cadaver programme.

This Reddy attributed to the lack of awareness and discussion on the donor issues.

"Despite improved technology like ventilators and emergency measures to preserve crucial body organs since 2004, there have been just 1,000 cadaver donations in India. While in the US in just last year, there have been 22,000 cadaver donations," Reddy said.
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