Some 60 Carmel nuns in northern India's Uttarakhand state have pledged to donate their organs once they die. "We have been helping people through our social services when we are alive and now after death our organs will be helpful to those in need," says Sister Jaya Peter. (Photo courtesy of the Carmel sisters)
Sixty Indian nuns from the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel have pledged to donate their organs, saying it was their contribution for the Year of Mercy.
The nuns of Dehradun province in northern India's Uttarakhand state offered their pledge to donate their organs to state sports and forest minister Dinesh Aggarwal on May 11.
"We have been helping people through our social services when we are alive and now after death our organs will be helpful to those in need," Sister Jaya Peter told ucanews.com.
She said 110 Carmel sisters in Kerala made the same pledge last month.
Lamenting that not many people are aware about organ donation in the country, the nun said that it was imperative to educate people about its importance.
In India, people are hesitant to donate their organs despite the fact that the country has been facing acute shortage of donor organs.
More than 3,000 organs transplants occur in the country annually while more than 1 million people nationwide are in need of an organ transplant. About 90 percent of the people on waiting lists in India die without getting an organ.
Father Mathew Abraham, director of the Catholic Health Association of India, said the demand for organ transplant is greater than the supply for several reasons.
People still do not know the importance of organ donation and how it can help them and others, he said.
"Other factors include ignorance among the people about how the organ donation is carried out. Religion too sometimes can have a negative impact on this as there are some beliefs of life after death," he said.
Father Abraham said association partners are spreading awareness across India to encourage people to donate their organs.
He said that a massive campaign needs to be launched at the national level to sensitize people to the issue.