My journey with Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti: Some reminiscences!!

Edited excerpts from the speech given by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, incumbent Minister of Science and Technology, Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Minister of Earth Sciences, Government of India on the occasion of ‘Dehdaaniyo Ka Utsav’ organised on October 11, 2020.

My association with Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti has been very long. In fact, the patron of DDDS and its president for twenty years, Sh. Alok Kumar would remember the exchange of letters that we had regarding this topic in the 1970s, when I was pursuing medicine at Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial Medical College, Kanpur. We used to discuss various aspects of organ and body donation in India. Being a medical student, I had the first-hand experience of the importance of cadavers for the training of a budding doctor. It made a strong impression on me. I personally feel ‘in debt’ of those cadavers. What better way it would be to get rid of this debt than to donate my body to my alma mater for the training of the future generations of doctors.

In the 1990s, DDDS was formally established. I was the health minister of Delhi at that time. I remember the enthusiasm and dedication with which we worked for this cause. Looking back, the first thing that comes to my mind is the first ‘Utsav’ of Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti held at Deendyal Shodh Sansthan, Delhi in 1997. The pioneer cardiac surgeon, Dr. P. Venugopal from AIIMS, who conducted the first successful heart transplant in India was presiding over the function. It was an emotional moment for me. I had the good fortune of signing the pledge for body donation with my wife in the presence of my father. I was in politics, so naturally there used to be lot of political programs and functions that I had to attend. My father did not accompany me in any of these political functions, but he was a regular at the ‘utsavs’ of Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti. This shows how deeply this cause impacted my father. Losing a loved one is a moment of great emotional distress and pain. Even the most committed ones can forget their pledge. I will always have this regret of being so overpowered with grief at the time of my father’s death that I forgot to donate his eyes.

Revered Shri Nana ji Deshmukh had also signed the pledge for donating his body to medical science at the first ‘Utsav’ of Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti. Shri Nana ji Deshmukh practiced what he preached. As per his last wishes, his body was donated to medical science and I along with Smt. Sushma Swaraj ji, Shri Alok ji, and many other leaders of party were part of his last journey when we went to donate his body to AIIMS.

Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti has come a long way since its first Utsav held in 1997. It fills my heart with great pleasure and pride that it has become the premier organization for organ and body donation in India. It speaks volumes about the dedication of the team to this noble cause. I extend my best wishes to DDDS. May they keep working to realize the dream of ‘Swasth Sabal Bharat”.