Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hey, that's me

It was H.G.Wells who suggested that human cadaver must be put to better use.  He suggested that cadavers be send to medical schools for study and not be interned or cremated.

Well this will be frowned upon by the ultra right wing of the religious zealots, of who we have in plenty. The Islamic didactic edicts mandates that a dead body be interned within twenty four hours of death occurring. And sentiments in other faiths too may frown upon such idea. Immediate family would cry plaint and in horror of such a prospect. How could the cadaver of a son, father, mother or someone near and dear be mutilated and dissected on the dissecting table in some nondescript medical laboratory? Outrageous and bizarre!

I have often thought of the matter, and also the subject of donating ones medically fit organs after death. There is this very good friend of mine who suggested that he may want to donate one of his kidneys right away. His contention was that one can survive well with a solitary kidney. I, predominantly and other fellows in tow pulled down his suggestion as quixotic and unnecessary. If honourable service is the idea, well there are as many that one can think of and exercise. By the same yardstick can one forego an eye? Well I guess he saw the point of my argument. We have not heard from him on this since.

Coming to the point of bequeathing one’s body after death to a medical school for research- has enormous potential benefits for medical science and future generations.  It not only letting science identify and document the reason for death, it will also dwell into the many inexplicable and sudden demises, unknown facets of physiology etc. Why does a healthy man, for instance fall dead with a massive cardiac arrest- while his routine medical checkup gave a perfect ten?  Winston Churchill smoked cigars like as if it was a matter of religion, I suppose. He enjoyed ample dose of High Land Scotch too. A perfect combination for early disaster! But he lived well into his eighties and did not die of cancer or heart attack. He even survived an English winter and with Pneumonia. If I or you enact that fascinating style of living we may not go far. Why is some body chemistry not susceptible to abuse? Why does a disciplined life style not see the person live long, but die of cancer or a heart attack? 

A  cover to cover reading of the fascinating biography of cancer, “The Emperor of Maladies”, throws open much knowledge for lay men like us in matters where science have been not quite successful if not failing repeatedly; where it has been hope plummeting to abysmal despair; inexplicable remissions and  relapse. How mankind and medical science have even after centuries of battle with cancer find itself still groping at times. There is a lot hidden in the physiological system of man that will take years and years to unravel. Or will we ever like the outer solar system? There is acute shortage of human cadaver for study and training in medical schools. And sometimes artificial, synthetic replicas are used. Imagine the fabulous benefits medical science will gather should mortal remains be autopsied. It may re- write medical knowledge itself.

Why not donate organs that are not diseased?  Why must we take them with us into the furnace or underground vault? Why not bequeath it to the needy that the many sins, false hood spoken and done while alive may be nullified with our heart, liver or kidney pulsating in another person, even after we are gone? Ensure our eyes be the beacon of hope for another, while the very same pair of eyes may have feigned blindness at many things?

It has been decided by C, and the children too are aware, that should one of us precede the other, our cadaver must be given to the anatomy department of a medical school. The organs be harvested and donated. True, the grief filled moments may sometimes prove to be prejudicial to the wise cause. Hence there must be someone who would undertake the deed of legal requirements. That is a better way of mourning the passing than wail uncontrollably.

The “Tower of Silence” has a noble idea in it. I would prefer my  cadaver be used for  a medical cause than let it be barbecued and smoked out of existence or let  it be dumped  in some underground pit for maggots, worms and wrigglers to feast to the bones.

If paradise is lost by not queuing to be there with my mortal remains intact, let it be. In any case we do not know the dress code to enter paradise.


NRIGirl said...

Wow! That is a courageous decision! Takes more courage on the part of the one left behind to carry out such wishes.

I wonder without the funeral will there be a closure?!

Meera Sundararajan said...

I admire your decision to donote your body to medical science. Actually I have some mixed feelings about this. While I am absolutely ok with donating a body part like an eye or a kidney to benefit another person who is ill, I do not want to donate my body to a medical college. I have seen some of the absolute MORONS who pass for medical students- Children of rich parents or avaricious young men and women who want to become docs to make money or marry money- I am very sure that these hands will not treat my body with the respect that it would deserve ( I know the body is only mortal etc etc). It is yes to donating something to save the life of an individual but no to medical colleges for helping students learn dissection!

Ruprekha said...

How true! Indeed, that's a great thought. I have always been absolutely positive about donating my healthy organs and my body after death. But haven't really done anything about that. Your post has now prompted me to take a step forward in this regard and find out for registration etc.

Insignia said...

It requires hella lot of courage.

Though I appreciate your gesture; I personally feel donating organs to needy is more nobler than donating our body for study.

anilkurup said...

@ NRIGirl,Meera Sundarajan& Insignia,

I chose to reply to the comments of you trio is because the contents of your comments borders on the same phrase or word in particular-"Courageous decision", The definition of "courage' as noted in the dictionary is ,"able to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching."

Now what is the danger involved or to be feared if our organs are harvested after death or the cadaver is autopsied or dealt anatomically?

NRIGirl is apprehensive about the absence of funeral and there may be no closure according to you. Closure of what? If it is the religious rites it can be done before consigning the cadaver for medical purpose.

Meera Sundarajan is disturbed about the arrogant spoiled lot that study in medical schools , disrespecting the body. being cremated and let to putrefy in a tomb too is a sort of discourtesy. is it not? Why bother once we are gone?Well it is a personal opinion let me say here.

And B, the nobility is what is shown by being good while we are alive. When we generally fail or are average in that regard , my suggestions may be seen as a redress too.
Sentiments apart this is ones decision and is personal. Perhaps a little pondering into this will give us sufficient grounds to be of use even in death.

@ Ruprekha,

Yes awareness is a must.And good to know that you have no apprehension.

adithyasaravana said...

hmmm.. courageous may not be the apt word , this is something which involves commitment,planning, and talking to our close family.definitely the decision has to be lauded..

medical students live with the cadaver for almost one whole year, In my times it was a year and half..we had 13 for our batch of hundred students..
we lean over the cadaver, sometimes we need to carry the dissected organs, we teach to fellow students when they missed the dissection, we play jokes, some love stories do happen, many friendships made, broke and changed in those year.. because it was in front of the specified cadaver the whole batch would gather everyday..
our old man was muscular, and tall,and I thank him for teaching me basics of handling the scalpel..
as far as what I will do..
I just now talked to my son as to whether I knew to draw a brinjal when I was studying second standard..
haven't made up my mind.. I know I am evading..
but that is a honest answer..

R.Ramakrishnan said...

Exceptionally well written post.You have an amazing vocabulary and such a good mastery over the English language.Your decision to donate your organs is meritorious and courageous. Looks like it is time for each one of us to do some soul searching and take such bold & progressive decisions.
Thanks for visiting my posts and leaving your comments.

anilkurup said...

@ AdityaSaravanan,

Yes I got your point. You have been candid to admit that .
I guess as a physician by profession gentry like you stand a better position to implant this idea.don't you think so?

@ R. Ramakrishnan,

Thank you for the comments. I mentioned in my reply to other Bloggers who commented alike. Nothing courageous .Sir.

And your comments on my writing is encouraging, but honestly I do not see any reasons for such encomiums. Just a learner exercising the education that I got and still a learner.

Insignia said...


The courage I talked about was talking about one's death by itself. Honestly; how many of us could pass off talking about our death with ease as if its just another event. Not many of us. So your decision is courageous in my opinion.

anilkurup said...

@ Insignia,

You wont leave me !
yes I got your point. But why be scared and frightened about something inevitable and that is not at our discretion in time and moment?Yes I do not want such an event occurring right now as there are something more to ensure in life.
In fact your clarification gives me an idea to go back to a post I wrote a bit and then left it at that."The Bucket List"!

Insignia said...

Haha yeah sensible conversation are always delicious :)

Waiting for your bucket list :)

Thommy said...

Are you an HGW fan...? I am.

anilkurup said...

@ Thommy,

Not a fan in the conventional sense. But he was one of those thinkers and writers who thought before they wrote and spoke.
And question matters, analyse, reason before concluding.
don't you think so?

Happy Kitten said...

Came back to the blogspot after the 10 day long Eid holidays and with much sorrow I read about the death of one one of my fav bloggers....Kochuthresiamma Joseph http://santanusc.blogspot.com/2011/11/kochuthresiamma-joseph.html.. nd when I came to your blog, I find that even you have been much eloquent about the same subject; death, bucket list etc. etc...

One needs to learn better to deal with death; that of your own and the others...but it is a depressing subject..

Happy Kitten said...

Wrote a comment yesterday and not sure where it went!

It is after I read about the death of one of my favourite blogger (http://santanusc.blogspot.com/2011/11/kochuthresiamma-joseph.html) that I landed on your blog...death is a depressing subject and nothing can take away the sting..

You have taken a bold decision.. not many will do so for various reasons... you also seem to have a healthy approach towards death...

anilkurup said...

@ Happy Kitten,

Wired this virtual world , real time too. I saw your comment in Google but not on the Blog.
I have already seen your post on KPJ and commented. May she RIP.