Losing Kidney, Winning Hearts: Sikh Girl Offers Kidney to Muslim Friend     


SRINAGAR — A Sikh girl from Udhampur wants to donate one of her kidneys to save the life of her Muslim friend suffering from organ failure, but objections by her family and a hospital here are delaying the procedure, prompting her to approach court.

Manjot Singh Kohli, 23, a Sikh social activist from Udhampur area of the Jammu region, has decided to donate one of her kidneys to her 22-year-old friend Samreen Akhtar, a Muslim and a resident of Rajouri district.

“We have been friends for the past four years and I am emotionally attached to her. Also, it is my strong belief in humanity that is motivating me to donate my kidney,” Kohli said.

She said Akhtar has been involved in social activism with her for the past many years in Jammu.

“But, Akhtar never told me about her illness and I came to know through a mutual friend. She has been my friend and supporter in my tough times and I decided to donate a kidney to her when she needs it,” Kohli said.

Akhtar said she was grateful to her friend for the selfless act.

“She (Kohli) is an incredible person. I simply want to thank her for her selfless act of love and kindness. She was prompt to contact me and express her willingness to donate her kidney. At first, I did not believe my ears, but when she came to meet me and accompanied me before the authorisation committee, I was overwhelmed. It was really life changing for me,” Akhtar said.

They, however, said doctors at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura here were “delaying” the procedure by creating “unnecessary hurdles”.

“The SKIMS is creating hurdles and delaying the procedure even as the authorisation committee for organ donation has cleared both of us for the transplant procedure. I do not know why we are being pushed to the wall by doctors and administration at SKIMS, Soura,” Kohli said.

Director, SKIMS, Dr Omar Shah said the committee is looking into the issue and they would decide on it immediately.

“We will do whatever best we can. The authorisation committee has informed me that there are legalities involved and they need some more papers before they take a decision on the matter,” Shah said.

Kohli said while she thinks the SKIMS might be apprehensive about the procedure because of the donor belonging to a different religion, her family also has sent a notice to the hospital, saying there was no family consent.

“My family has sent a notice to the SKIMS and may never give the consent. But, I am a major and can take decisions for myself. I am legally eligible to donate and I do not need the family’s consent,” she said.

She said they would approach court to seek a direction to SKIMS to perform the procedure without any further delay.

“I have consulted a lawyer friend and we will go to court. There are court directions from previous cases and we hope to get a favourable judgment,” Kohli said.

Manjot’s gesture comes nearly a year after the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Bakerwal Muslim girl in Jammu’s Kathua district had stoked communal tensions, which intensified when thousands hit the streets in the region to protest the suspects’ arrest.

These developments not only widened the gulf between the Valley and Jammu but also between Jammu’s Hindu heartland and its Muslim majority areas of Pir Panchal and the Chenab valley.

Just out of college, Manjot is already chairperson of the Anti-corruption and Human Rights Council, a Jammu-based NGO. The young social activist’s willingness to put her body on the line has earned her all-round praise.

“This heartwarming gesture of @manjotsingh_ brings me to tears,” National Conference politician Sara Hyat Shah tweeted.

“This brave, beautiful woman from Udhampur (Jammu) has decided to donate a kidney to Samreena (Kashmiri Muslim) who needs a kidney transplant. So proud of her. SALUTE and RESPECT!!”  (with inputs from PTI)


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