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Andhra Pradesh - Hyderabad Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Hard choice for a mother

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD, DEC. 11. It is not often that a mother finds the courage to demand her son's death so that others can live. K. Sujatha has knocked on the doors of the AP High Court to pull the plug off the ventilator, which keeps her son alive, so that five others can benefit from his organs.

K. Venkatesh (25) has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable disease, which slowly takes life away. The disease has paralysed his muscles from neck down and his life support system helps him breathe.

Venkatesh wanted to donate his organs after death but doctors told him that except for the eyes, organs could be harvested only from the brain-dead.

Doctor's dilemma

His doctor, Vemula Sreekanth of Hyderabad's Global Hospitals, refused to take him off the ventilator.

"As a doctor I have to save a life," he explained. "His mother requested us to honour her son's desire but we told her we cannot do that under any circumstances. How will I answer my conscience?" he added.

At this point, Sujatha approached the High Court. The Committee appointed by the Court to look into the matter submitted its report on Saturday. It skirted away from discussing "euthanasia" which is clearly illegal, but said that Venkatesh's desire to donate his organs should be honoured and all preparations should be made to harvest his organs when natural death occurs.

An inspiration

"He knew from an early age that he had this disease but he never let it get to him," says sister K. Leela Sharada. "He taught at his chess academy and attended a multi-media course on wheel-chair," she added.

He has already inspired others to donate their organs. "Inspired by Venkatesh, some of my patients with degenerative diseases have already expressed their desire to donate their organs inspired," Dr. Sreekanth said.

He felt it was important that lawmakers and the judiciary initiate a debate on euthanasia as medical profession has to deal with such cases increasingly. Amid all this, Sujatha is clear about her purpose. "I am just trying to realise my son's wish," she summed up.

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