DELAY: Do a re-test on the 5th day after the infection’s symptoms manifest themselves. If you lose your sense of smell and taste have yourself tested immediately.

By Rajan Narayan

A strong rumour has it that if you go to the government public hospital of Goa Medical College & Hospital (GMC) you will be tested positive for Covid-19 because they want to steal your organ! This is totally false. Indeed, the GMC does not even have a kidney transplant facility any longer. So if you think you are suffering from symptoms of Covid-19 don’t delay or you will be putting your lungs at risk and the infection can proof to be fatal. (Answer the quiz on Page 3 here to test how aware you are of Covid-19.

THE majority of the working class in Goa are afraid of even doing a Covid-19 test in a government Primary Health Centre, let alone be admitted at the GMC for treatment in the specially designated Covid-19 wards. This includes blue-collared workers like plumbers, electricians, washing machine mechanics and even computer mechanics. Last week a computer technician insisted to me that all the hysteria of Covid-19 was just fooling the people. If you present with a routine cough or cold they are happy declaring you Covid-19 positive and taking you away at one of the centres for quarantine.
Why should any doctor deliberately declare you positive when your test shows you to be negative? This technician who called on me looked at me as if I’m an illiterate fool. It is not just the computer mechanic but even my relatively new maid from Orissa. They are all convinced that organ stealing all believe that there is an stealthy organ stealing racket at the GMC and Covid-19 negative patients are the ideal patients to fool.
Yet another friend who runs a cable channel insisted he has seen surgery marks on lady friend’s husband admitted for Covid-19 treatment. The wife was refusing to take her husband’s dead body back because she suspected foul play. Such scars are only in kidney cases, the friend explained. In the normal course Covid-19 treatment does not call for any surgical procedures.


ADMITTEDLY, if Covid-19 patients have other complications to their health status like cardiac or diabetes the risk from Covid-19 infection is much higher. But Covid-19 infection by itself only needs the prescribed antibiotics, vitamins and high levels of oxygen supply. In mild cases the only tablets prescribed are Paracetamol which is a big branded word for good old aspirin, a popular painkiller available over the chemist’s counter without the fuss of a doctor’s prescription.
But the doubts and suspicion will not go away. I have come across waiters who are normally migrants who even claim that there is nothing like Covid-19 around. Anyone with a cough and cold is labelled a Covid-19 patient. These denials are mostly prevalent amongst the poorer working classes. In comparison the rich and beautiful of society take Covid-19 very seriously.
In fact in the gated colony where I live some residents even put on PPEs while going out for a walk! Some of them of course are visiting Covid-19 patients being treated in hospital. The majority of the well-off classes are happy preferring to isolate themselves strictly at home instead going to hospitals if suspected that they have got the contagion. The trend was started by Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal when he decided that since the numbers of new cases far exceeded bed capacity in Delhi hospitals, it would be wiser to impose home quarantine and treatment with all treatment advice laid on over telephone and digital communication. We hear the scheme is working very well with patients much preferring to be guided into treatment at their own homes.

RED CARPET: Unlike other states which discourage large gatherings of people Goa has even thrown open the casinos to potential Covid-19 carriers


AT one stage there were plans to even convert the largest stadium in Delhi, the Firoja Kotla cricket stadium, into a giant Covid-19 temporary hospital. Even if the poor and middle class want to avoid going to hospital and would prefer home isolation — they don’t have the facility of a good home. In the case of isolation the patient requires a spare room with toilet and bathroom family attached so that other members of the family need not use it. Or even the servants of the household coming in and going out. Food is delivered to the isolated patient at home but at the door. The patient has to have his or her own set of plates, glasses, shaving kit requirements, bathing requirements, all of which the rest of the family keeps a distance from for fear of acquiring Covid-19 infection.
PERHAPS part of the reason why there are these suspicions and rumours about the stealing of kidneys in the GMC is the reputation of the hospital. Particularly, the Dean of GMC Siddharth Bandekar and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane — both have acquired a reputation of doing anything for money in the eyes of public perception. The bitter reality is that stealing of kidneys is far more likely to be taking place in private hospitals. We remember reading about the huge scandal about illegal kidney transplants in the highly regarded Hiranandani hospital in Mumbai.
The rules on kidney or rather organ transplant are very strict. Only a close relative of the patient can donate a kidney to him/her. In the case of other organs donations are voluntarily made by family members after someone dies in a road accident. Or heart attack victims who have left behind a written consent form saying that “eyes can be donated to someone in need.” The sale organs for money is totally banned in the country.
Although there is no denying the fact that trading in organs may be going in on the sly for there are many crooked doctors willing to be a party to such practices if it monetarily rewarding for them. But allegations that kidneys are stolen in the GMC shocks me. This is because the only qualified, experienced nephrologist (doctors who perform transplants) Dr Tiwari is one of the most honest and dedicated surgeon I have ever come across. Not at all the kind of man who would compromise with his conscience. Yes, kidney and even liver transplants have been performed in the GMC by Dr Tiwari, in collaboration with the Healthway hospital’s Dr Madhumohan. However, there have been no complaints of any kind of trading in organs like the kidneys.


WHICH is not to say trading in organs is not a terribly profitable business with rich patients prepared to pay several lakh or crore for a kidney or liver transplant. They are much in demand nowadays. We live in a very advanced medical era where even hearts are transplanted. The most common transplant in the country is the transplant of the eye of someone who dies in an accident. Transplants are very complicated procedures as the organs concern can be kept alive in cold storage only for a limited number of hours once a donor patient is declared brain dead.
We have heard news stories of how organs are being rushed in emergency situations and all security from Chennai to Mumbai or elsewhere in a refrigerated ambulance or airbus for transplant. I remember I was at the Hinduja hospital for a rectopexy operation and my room was opposite the kidney transplant operating room. It was not so very advanced but twin rooms in which two kidney operations were performed simultaneously. The kidney of the donor is removed and transplanted into the body of the person whose kidney has failed. It would call for a team of very high skilled health personnel and surgeons to do transplants successfully.
THE rumours that testing in the GMC and the Urban Health Centres is dangerous because your kidneys may be targeted is absurd. We are confident that no organs have been removed from any Covid-19 patient in Goa. On the contrary all those who avoid getting tested or do not believe that they are infected in spite of test coming positive are risking their lives. It is because of the delay in testing and prompt admission in the hospital within five days of symptoms manifesting themselves that so many young people die in Goa.
In no other state in the country do young people in their 20s or below die of Covid-19! The young have greater immunity than those below six years or senior citizens above 70 years. The reason why sudden deaths of young people takes place is rumours and ignorance. In this days of social media or all that it takes to promote a fear conference is a mobile phone costing at the very minimum Rs1,500. Labour in Goa earn relatively high wages and almost everyone has a simple mobile at least.
The problem is so complicated that there is a competition among doctors in Goa to give bhashan or speeches on Covid-19. Doctors in Goa compete with each other to address press conferences and give interviews on the subject of Covid-19. Heading the list is the GMC dean Siddharth Bandekar who insists that anyone with temperature of more than 103 degree C for two days should get himself tested.
The very next day he give another interview saying anyone with fever should get himself tested! To say the very least here there is there is some kind of absurd competition between heads of department of preventive medicine Jagdish Kakodkar and his assistant Dr Amit Dias. The day after Dr Amit Dias, who is actually treating Covid-19 patients, held a small awareness programme in the Mandor sub-hospital of the GMC, Dr Kakodkar gave a contradictory interview claiming that Covid-19 patients are reporting unusual symptoms like nausea, diarrea, increased frequency of urination, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis and even hiccups.
If you go by Dr Jagdish Kakodkar than anyone with any minor ailment has got Covid-19. Never mind that we hear that the good Dr Kakodkar has never treated a Covid-19 patient to date! In fact, doctors in their anxiety to get publicity, are confusing patients rather than reassuring them not to believe in rumours about their kidneys being stolen at the GMC. If you have any such doubts you are welcome to take a policeman with you to protect your kidney.
AND a last comment on the manner in which the Covid-19 warriors, doctors engaged in treating infected patients around the clock in Goa. Till recently the medical staff directly involved with Covid-19 patients were put up in decent private hotel accommodation. They were allotted single rooms as a natural precaution so that they may not infect one another.
Now suddenly, the bankrupt Goa government of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has stopped extending the residence facility to doctors and healthcare workers who include interns and nurses treating Covid-19 patients. Now they have to come by their own transport whenever they get an emergency ward call. This is inhuman as it is very tough for a doctor to even do a six hour shift in full PPE gear. If we do not treat our Covid-19 warriors with respect and offer them much required facilities – there will be more deaths in Goa if the deadly contagion makes a worse comeback.

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