Kolkata, Jan 22 (IANS) Marxist icon Jyoti Basu`s gesture in donating his body for medical reserach has triggered a wave in West Bengal to emulate him.
Thanks to NGOs, a massive movement is building up in the state with an 80 million-strong populace.
Since Jan 19, when Basu`s body was donated for medical science to the state-owned SSKM Hospital as per his wish, Ganadarpan - the central coordinating NGO on body donation in the state - has received 3,000 enquiries from people eager to donate their bodies to medical sciences after death.
"We don`t have time to eat or do other things. We are flooded with enquiries. People are calling up, coming in person to our office or sending e-mails seeking to know how they can pledge their bodies," Ganadarpan general secretary Braja Roy told IANS Friday.
"And the enquiries are not limited to any particular class, age group or economic section. People from all walks of life, including youths in their 20s, are filling up pledge forms," Roy said.
Since its establishment in 1986, Gandarpan normally received about 1,000 enquiries for body donation till Basu`s death. Over 700,000 people have pledged their bodies in the state over the past 24 years, while around 1,400 bodies were actually donated.
"Yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday) we have received one body each. If the momentum is not lost, then body donations will go up four or five folds in the state," Roy said.
"But this initial craze may be partly because of a tremendous emotional outpouring for the great leader. Some sloth is bound to come as days go by. But there is no doubt that Basu`s act will inspire more people," he said.
Another NGO Udayer Pathe, which works under Gandarpan, said the number of daily enquiries in their office has doubled from 25 to 50 in the last four days.
Udayer Pathe joint secretary Bappa Ghosh said: "I think body donation is building up into a movement."
Sharmishtha Bhattacharya, a south Kolkata housewife, had to keep all her work pending and rush to the NGO after her mother and mother-in-law fervently pleaded with her to get pledge forms for donating their bodies, just like Basu.
Braja Roy said the nine medical colleges in the state need 20 bodies each every year for their students. "Now, they hardly get 13 bodies. And this is the scene in Bengal. In other states, except Maharashtra, you can easily visualise the situation, as the body donation movement is virtually absent."
Indian Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (IPGMER) at the SSKM hospital said it received 14 bodies every year.
"I will not say we have a shortage of bodies for dissection, but yes, it will be of great help if we get more," said IPGMER director Pradip Kumar Mitra.
Roy said apart from dissection, the bodies can be used for retrieving tissue, heart valve and even bones.
The NGOs are also planning to launch a massive campaign to raise consciousness on body donation in the coming days. "In the past, due to strong resistance from relatives, bodies of a large number of those who had signed the pledge could not be collected. Not only commoners, even families of doctors became hostile," he said.