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Help received, Help returned

At the installation ceremony of the new Lions Club team in June, past international director Ashok Mehta had a moving story to tell. It bears retelling.

Once a person who needed a kidney transplant urgently approached the Lions Club central unit for help. The club searched through a list of prospective donors but could not find a match. Ultimately Mehta decided to place an advertisement in several newspapers including Loksatta.

Some time later a young man responded to the ad. When a tissue match was carried out it was found that he was a potential donor. Mehta asked him what payment he expected for donating a kidney but the youth said that could be discussed later. More tests were carried out and it was confirmed that his kidney could be donated without much danger of rejection by the recipient's body.

Finally the day of the transplant dawned and both the donor and the recipient were admitted to hospital. Now that the question could not be postponed any longer Mehta posed the question again: How much did the young man want as payment for his kidney?

In answer the youth lifted the legs of his trousers. Both his lower limbs were artificial ones. He then narrated his story. A few years before he had suffered a train accident at Karjat where he lived. He lost both his legs. The Lions Club of Karjat helped send him to hospital and paid for his stay there. Not much could be done to save his legs. Then the club paid for him to go the Artificial Limb Centre at Pune which catered mainly to the armed forces but also partially to civilians. There he was fitted with artificial limbs and learnt to walk again.

"The Lions Club of Karjat helped me to walk again," explained Sunil Shinde, for that was the youth's name. In volunteering to donate his kidney, he said, he did not expect any payment but was merely paying back what he felt he owed the club. Mehta had begun his talk by asking Lions Club members why they did social service. The answer lay in his story.