Guwahati, May 15: CPM activist Ellora Roychoudhury passed away young, but set a sterling example even in death.
Roychoudhury succumbed to cancer at her Hedayatpur residence here this morning at the age of 34, and as she had willed, her family wasted no time in handing over the body to the anatomy department of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) for research.
It was a “donation” the college accepted with gratitude and respect, for not many people make the unselfish decision that Roychoudhury did when she was alive.
B.C. Bora, superintendent of the GMCH, said the deceased was the only woman to have pledged her body to the college for the cause of medical research. “Before her, only one person had done likewise. Our institution received the body of Chandrakanta Saikia, who was a follower of Vinoba Bhave, after his death on October 23, 1986.”
Taufiqur Rahman Borborah, vice-principal of the medical college, was present when Roychoudhury’s family completed the formality. The CPM activist leaves behind her husband and a six-year old son.
In her last will and testament, dated March 26, the deceased had stated that her husband Isfaqur Rahman would hand over her body to the GMCH for “enrichment of medical science”. She was inspired to do so on reading a newspaper report about a person who had donated his body while visiting Chennai for treatment.
Roychoudhury’s eyes were donated to the Shankardev Netralaya here. Her husband has made a similar will.
For students at the GMCH, especially those in the first year of the MBBS course, shortage of human bodies for dissection is a perennial problem. The college has 155 first-year students at present.
“Because of the scarcity of bodies, we have to perform several demonstrations on a single body. This is inadequate for the students, who require more practical knowledge of the human anatomy,” professor of anatomy Kunjalal Talukdar said.
In the 42 years of its existence, the medical college here has been dependent on the police for supply of unclaimed bodies. “It so happens that by the time we receive an unclaimed body from the police, it has begun decomposing,” Talukdar said.
The cadaver refrigerator at the anatomy department can preserve 18 bodies at a time, but it is non-functional at present. The morgue, too, lacks adequate facilities for preservation of bodies.
The professor of anatomy said the medical college did not have the wherewithal to “buy bodies from outside”. Hospitals in Ranchi and North Bengal supply bodies to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal for Rs 5,000 each.
“RIMS can airlift such bodies because it is funded by the North Eastern Council. Paying Rs 5,000 per body plus air transportation charges is beyond the financial capabilities of the GMCH,” Talukdar said.
He hoped Roychoudhury’s gesture would inspire others to donate their bodies. As a mark of respect to her, the hospital will preserve the skeleton in the anatomy department.