BENGALURU: On February 16, Harish Nanjappa (26) met with a terrible accident that severed his body in two. Minutes before dying, Harish told the ambulance driver his last wish: to have his eyes donated.
Less than a fortnight later, almost the entire village of Karegowdanahalli, Gubbi, have decided to pay a fitting tribute to their hero: they have all pledged their eyes too.
Inspired by their village boy’s heroic act, 180 villagers under the leadership of their gram panchayat chief Nanjundappa made the pledge on Monday, the 13th day of Harish’s death ceremony.
Of the 180 villagers aged between 11 and 82, 107 are women. “A total of 102 women, 71 men and 9 children volunteered to pledge their eyes,” said Dr Somashekar, medical director, Dr Rajkumar Eye Bank, Narayana Nethralaya, who had come to the village to create awareness on eye donation.
Dr Bhujang Shetty, chairman, Narayana Nethralaya, said, “We collected Harish’s eyes as he was keen on donating his organs. It’s astounding how a man who was split into two and lying on the road was able to think with such clarity. It’s unheard of. Harish’s eyes have been successfully transplanted on two different individuals.
“A 24-year-old person from his village and a 28-year-old woman from North Karnataka have got vision and Harish sees the world through them,” said Dr Shetty.
Dr Shetty said the eyes must be collected within six hours of death. Unlike other organs, it does not matter to which blood group either the donor or receiver belongs.
On the fateful day of February 16, Harish had gone to his village in Tumakuru district, around 120 km from Bengaluru, to vote in the local elections along with his uncle Chandrappa. Mother Geethamma, a daily wage worker, had requested him to stay back that weekend to help her complete harvesting of ragi. As promised, he had helped her over the weekend and was returning to Bengaluru when a speeding truck knocked him down and ran over him.
As he lay writhing on the road, waiting for help, he knew he was certain to die. As he was being shifted in the ambulance to be rushed to hospital, he told the driver to ensure his organs were donated. “He was in pain. I knew I had to keep driving,” said Manjunath, the ambulance driver.
Harish was declared dead at the hospital. Doctors managed to harvest Harish’s eyes, but not his other organs as they were badly damaged.
Harish Inspires Short Film Too
Harish’s selfless act is the theme of a documentary too. Filmmaker Maya Chandra has been in Karegowdanahalli for the past one week to recapture the last days of Harish. She is closely working with his family and villagers.
“Harish has sent a very strong message of turning his weakest moment into his strongest by thinking of doing good to society. He made his life purposeful even in those dying moments. It’s inspiring how he managed to do that even in that condition. I wanted to capture the aftermath of the incident and send a strong message to society on how brave a man can be even in death,” she said.
The fact that none of them came to his aid even as he lay pleading for help is another strong message to the selfish society we live in, Chandra added.