Donor who gave hands to an amputee, also lends lease of life to four others

- March 7, 2024
| By : Kushan Niyogi |

Meena Mehta, the donor, had already asked for her organs to be donated a month before her death

Raj Kumar, the painter who lost his hands in an accident

Raj Kumar, a 45-year-old painter who lost both his hands in a train accident in 2020 has been treated to full health in a medical achievement of a lifetime for Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. He is slated to be discharged on Thursday with both his hands back in place.

However, it is the donor Meena Mehta whose contribution has not been spoken about.

The deceased, who was nearing 60 at the time of being admitted and was declared brain dead, had taken the selfless decision to donate her organs on the event of her death. Thus, it was her hands which found a suitable home with Kumar.

It is not just the painter who has found a fresh lease of life because of the now-deceased administrative head of a South Delhi school. Many others, including a patient at Fortis Hospital, have also got a second shot at life through transplants of liver, kidney and lungs. According to the Mehta family, Meena wanted her heart to be donated as well but there were no takers then.

Lalita Grover, Meena’s elder sister, reminisced about her younger sister’s decision.

Meena Mehta, the donor

“I was shocked and a bit angry when she said that she wanted to donate her organs. I told her, ‘Yeh sab kya keh rahi hai aap. Kuch hua hi nahi hai aapko (Why are you talking about such morbid things? You are healthy right now)’, but after a month, she succumbed to a stroke,” said Lalita, as tears rolled down her cheek.

Lalita added that it seems almost prophetic that she spoke about getting her organs donated just a month before her death.

“She knew about it much before we did. However, I am glad that she took this decision. It fills me with immense joy whenever I see someone leading a normal life with her organs. She lives through these patients,” she said.

Meena was unmarried throughout the course of her life. Her reason, however, was not due to not finding a suitable match but to live life by her own rules.

“She was as selfless as it gets, both in life and after. She had never married because she believed in taking care of oneself before others. Even when she was admitted to the hospital, she used to tell me to not worry about her but to worry about myself, and to take care of my own self. ‘It is okay to worry about your family but you should first take care of yourself’, she had told me,” said Lalita.

Meena Mehta’s family

The qualities of selflessness and desire to help others were there in her since childhood.

“When we were kids, we would play together, cycle together and even study together. We are four sisters and she was much younger than us but she was also the most responsible. We had a designated time for our studies and when all of us wanted to play, she would alert us of our studies. ‘Baad me khel lena, abhi padhai karni hai (Play later, now is the time to study),’ she would say,” said Lalita.

Javed Mehta, who had become just like a brother to Meena and at whose residence she used to reside, recalled how she had tied rakhi around his wrist for the first time.

“We had become inseparable then, like a brother and sister,” he said.

Much like Lalita, Javed was also taken aback by the idea of Meena donating her organs. However, in hindsight, he is glad that she took the decision.

“Donating organs is much better than cremating or burying someone. It helps someone get another shot at life and it will also help extending the life of my sister. It always fills me with joy whenever I see someone leading a healthy, happy life with Meena ji’s organs,” said Javed.

The hospital in Karol Bagh had secured the permission to conduct the hand transplant from Delhi’s health department in February, and with the success of the surgery, it only lights up the path ahead for more bilateral hand surgeries in the future.