Kolkata: Like Marxist icon Jyoti Basu, more than 700,000 people in West Bengal, including Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, have pledged to donate their body for medical science, says an NGO.
Over 1,400 people have already donated their body across the state since 1986, said Braja Roy, general secretary of Ganadarpan, the central coordinator on the issue that has grabbed national headlines over the last few days since Basu`s death Sunday.
In 2003, Basu, who ruled the state for a record 23 years as chief minister, had pledged to donate his body and it was handed over to the state-run SSKM hospital Tuesday at the end of his last journey.
"Since 1986, over 700,000 people have pledged to donate their body in West Bengal. Around 1,400 of them have already done so," Roy told a news agency.
Roy said his organisation receives more than 1,000 enquiries for body donation every month, and hopes the number will go up now after Basu`s noble gesture.
"We are confident that after what Basu has done, the number of people willing to give their body for medical research will go up several times," he said.
Asked whether they were already receiving more enquiries, Roy said: "We will have an idea after three or four days."
Among prominent people whose bodies were donated after their death are journalist Gour Kishore Ghosh, academician-cum-litterateur Gauri Ayub, radical humanist Shib Narayan Roy, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders Anil Biswas, Benoy Chowdhury and Chittabrata Majumdar and Communist Party of India`s Ila Mitra and Ranen Sen.
Apart from Chief Minister Bhattacharjee and Chatterjee, Health Minister and CPI-M leader Surjya Kanta Mishra has also pledged to donate his body after death.
Others who have made the same pledge include CPI-M leaders Nisith Adhikari, Benoy Konar and mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.
Trinamool Congress MLA Firhad Hakim has also signed the pledge.
"Those willing to donate their body have to sign a three-page form saying they were pledging their body for promotion of medical science. They also have to give a pledge that in case of brain death, their organs can be at the disposal of medical science."
"While bodies are mainly used by medical students for dissection and research, in case of brain death, internal organs like heart, kidney and liver can also be used for treatment," he said.
Roy said apart from West Bengal, the body donation movement is also strong in Maharashtra. "But it is yet to pick up pace elsewhere in the country."
Ganadarpan was founded in 1977 with the principal aim of fighting superstition and taboo. "We decided to launch a massive movement in the 1980s to inspire people to donate their bodies," he added.