March 31, 2020
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The Dead Give Life

The Dead Give Life
Jeene Bhi Do Yaaro
Satish Shah (middle) plays the corpse in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
The Dead Give Life

As the world slept, doctors at the SCB Medical College, the premier government medical college in Odisha, were burning the midnight oil. By the early hours of February 11, they had achieved the rare feat of carrying out the first cadaveric organ transplant in the state. The kidney of Priyanka Rani Patra, a 26-year-old accident victim declared ‘brain dead’ by doctors at the Apollo Hospital in Bhubaneswar, was transplanted on a young male patient admitted in SCB. The willingness of Priyanka’s family to donate her organs made this possible. When it comes to donating whole bodies, though, families of deceased or brain dead people have not been so generous. As a result, students at the oldest medical college in Odisha are facing a serious problem in their anatomy classes. As against the Medical Council of India guideline of one body for every eight students, SCB is making do with just eight bodies—five male and three female—for its 250 students, a ratio of over 1:30! “When 20-25 students crowd around one body, it becomes very difficult for those in the back row to follow what is going on,” says Biswajit Sahu, president of the SCB students union.

Doctors at the hospital, however, make light of the problem. They claim that the 3D dissection table is a better option as it offers the most realistic virtual view of the cadaver, besides off­ering additional facilities like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan and microscopic view. “Maintaining the cad­aver is a long and difficult process, which includes dissection and putrefaction. The 3D dissection table, on the other hand, is very helpful for students as they can operate it easily,” says Dr Jayshree Mohanty, the dean.

Students of anatomy, however, are not convinced and argue that a 3D projection is no substitute to a real body. “It’s like learning to cycle by watching a cycling visual. In fut­ure, we will have to conduct surgeries ourselves. So, it’s important that we learn about anatomy with a real body,” says a student. The obvious reason for the dearth of bodies is reluctance of people who lose their dear ones to donate their bodies. While organ don­ation has picked up in the state over the past few years, there are not many people willing to donate bodies. This, experts say, could be due to socio-cultural factors, which mandates the burning of the corpse as a sac­red religious duty for Hindus.

By Sandeep Sahu in Bhubaneswar

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