India: 15 Christian clerics donate kidneys after priest leads the way

The UK NHS has encouraged faith communities to join the organ donor register

Fifteen Christian clerics in Kerala, India have donated organs since 2009, when a Catholic priest set an example by giving his kidney to a patient in need.

Fr Davis Chiramel founded the Kidney Federation of India after donating to Thekkemadathil Gopinathan, a poor electrician.

The Times of India (ToI) reported that since then, 15 clerics, including a Bishop and a nun, have donated their kidneys and Kerala is now the only state in India where hundreds of people have volunteered to become live kidney donors.

The Kidney Federation of India is reportedly receiving numerous calls with people expressing interest in donating organs.

Unprecedentedly, Chiramel has also offered to donate his body for the students of the Thrissur Medical College Hospital in Kerala after his death.

"I believe paradise is realised when you offer whatever is in your possession while alive, and not when you ensure your body is laid in a nicely built tomb,'' Chiramel told ToI.

Jacob Murickan, the auxiliary Bishop of Pala diocese, donated his kidney to a 30-year-old youth named Sooraj. A Catholic nun, Sister Chaitanya has also donated her kidney to a 40-year-old man.

The News Minute noted that most of the organ recipients are not Christians.

Chiramel, 56, said: "I had gone through the medical history of at least ten people who had donated kidney[s] earlier, and had seen the downloaded videos of transplant surgeries. I was fully convinced that kidney donation does not cause any health issues".

Gopinathan was initially reluctant to accept kidney from Chiramel. "How can I make a priest, who is engaged in many other social service activities, suffer for me? This was my thinking then. But Fr Chiramel was determined and my friends persuaded me to accept,'' Gopinathan said.

Gopinathan is now leading a normal life and goes to work regularly. "I' m completely happy now," he said.

In the UK, the NHS has in the past appealed to faith communities to donate organs