Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Gift Of Life

Denzil, a 58 year old lawyer in Sri Lanka was desperate. The ultrasound investigation had revealed that he had a malignant tumor in his liver and that he needed a liver transplant in order to continue living. After an extensive search, he came to Singapore for further medical consultations and investigation. Being childless and not wanting to consider any of his very young nieces who were willing to be donors, Denzil pleaded with a friend for help. The friend was willing to help n but doctors found him unsuitable. Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, Denzil's wife found a donor in a temple which she visited regularly. It was a young monk who wanted nothing in return and who had, extraordinarily, previously donated a kidney to someone else. With hopes renewed, they brought the monk to Singapore and to everyone's relief, he was deemed a suitable donor. The transplantation was arranged immediately and it turned out to be a success.
Today, one and a half years later, we were fortunate to speak to the donor, Ven. Ariyawansha and Denzil. Ven. Ariyawansha is a 29 years old monk who hails from a temple in Anuradhapura, in northern Sri Lanka. He is presently in Singapore for the liver check up. A soft-spoken young man, he showed exceptional spiritual strengths. When asked what had led him to donate part of his liver, and earlier one of his kidneys, Ven. Ariyawansha explained that it is customary for monks to consider making such contributions. He also said that even if he had not been a monk he would have made the same offer. Apparently, at the age of 16, three years before he was ordained, he had already pledged to donate his organs should he pass away. Ven. Ariyawansha also said that he had been inspired to become an organ donor by the Jataka story in which the Bodhisattva gave his eyes to a blind man.
When asked for his opinion concerning Singapore’s proposal that some sort of 'controlled monetary compensation' be given to organ donors, Ven. Ariyawansha replied, "According to Buddhism, donation without any sort of expectations of monetary rewards or compensation would be regarded as the best and highest possible act of generosity. Therefore, as Buddhists, we have to bear this in mind and if we follow the Buddha's teachings correctly, our actions would reflect a higher act of donation rather than donating for money. Moreover, there would be sufficient organs for those in need if more people were encouraged to donate their organs voluntarily after their demise. I therefore do not agree to monetary compensation for organs. A donation is different from a sale."
With regards to his donations, Venerable said that he was quite happy about his decision and that he harbored no regrets whatsoever. He added, "I feel extremely happy and contented that I have made someone else happy. My intention is to gain enlightenment in this very lifetime – if possible – and I am doing this to gain further experiences relating to the Dhamma."
The recipient of the liver transplant, Mr. Denzil, now back in court as a lawyer in Sri Lanka, was asked how he felt on being told that he needed a liver transplant. He said he was devastated because he lacked both the financial resources and the means to seek the required medical treatment. It was, he said, his good kamma that he was able to find the money for the operation and, more importantly, a generous donor.
On Ven. Ariyawansha, Mr. Denzil had this to say, “Ven. Ariyawansha never made us feel that we were obliged to him. He never wanted anything from us and did not ask for anything. Although we are greatly indebted to him, he made us feel that we had given him the opportunity to do a good deed. We all understood his desire to donate part of his liver as a Buddhist. This is a common tradition in Sri Lanka. So we understand. It was not a surprise.” Mr. Denzil closed with the remark, “I will donate my organs to someone else if the need arises and if my age permits. An organ donor has a very happy feeling about it for the rest of his life. It is a good deed according to Buddhist tradition and will benefit the donor in all his future lives.'
By Bhante Dhammika and Jeffery Po, Image courtesy of SingaporeMedicine.

1 comment:

Konchog said...

Now THAT is dharma. Thank you so much for sharing that, Bhante-la. A perfect ending to an excellent day.