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India: A Catholic family donates seafarer kin’s organs after brain death

Vasanthan Michael

34-year-old Catholic seafarer Vasanthan Michael, from the small town of Punnaikayal in the Diocese of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, India, donated his organs to inpatients on November 6.

He is the first one to donate his organs in the village, as he was declared brain dead on November 5, 2023, following an incident.

A fatal accident took place near the village on October 31, 2023, when two motorcycles collided against each other, killing two young men from Punnaikayal named Lasington James, aged 31, and Alexander Thommai, who was just 34.

Vasanthan had severe head injuries and was admitted to the nearby hospital. Later, he was shifted to Meenakshi Mission Hospital in Madurai, where he had a major operation. As the operation failed, he was declared brain dead on November 4, 2023.

The hospital authorities, along with the concerned individuals of the village group called Punnai Siragugal Charity Forum (Wings of Punnai), spoke to the deceased wife, Stena Selvam, Anitha Michael, and Antonitta Irudayam, his sisters, to donate his organs.

One of his kidneys and liver were donated to the inpatients of Meenakshi Mission Hospital, Madurai, and the other one was taken to Kauvery Hospital, Trichy.

His iris was taken to Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai. His heart was to M.G.R. Health Care in Chennai by flight.

According to the Times of India, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s announcement on September 23 this year to accord state honor to deceased organ donors during their funerals spurred interest in organ donation, said Health Minister Ma Subramanian.

Vasanthan’s body was handed over to the family members with due respect by the hospital authorities of Meenakshi Mission Hospital, Madurai.

R. Policeishnan, Fisheries Minister of the State; Guru Chandran (Revenue Divisional Officer); P. Vamanan Tasildar of Trichendur Taluk; and Vasantha Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, honored the body of Vasanthan. 

Vasanthan was laid to rest in the cemetery of St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Punnaikayal.

Two days later, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, a Member of Parliament representing Thoothukkudi constituency in the Lok Sabha, along with Anitha R. Radhakrishnan, visited the family and consoled them.

Vasanthan left behind his wife Stena Selvam, son Macdeo, and daughter Vasna.

Tamil Nadu ranks first in India in deceased organ donation rate at 1.8 per million population, which is seven times higher than the national average.

Many have done and are attempting to donate their organs generously so that they can save up to eight lives, such as the liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, heart, and pancreas.- Robancy A Helen


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.


S L.DAYALAN FERNNAD, Nov 09 2023 - 7:19pm