A Syro-Malabar Catholic bishop from the southern Indian state of Kerala has a special way to celebrate the Year of Mercy: he is donating his kidney to save a young Hindu man battling for his life.
“I have no anxiety about the surgery, and it’s only a simple sacrifice for a fellow being,” Bishop Jacob Muricken, 52, told CNA. He is an auxiliary bishop of the Sryo-Malabarese Diocese of Palai.
He will donate his kidney to save 30-year-old Sooraj Sudhakaran. The young man is from Kottakkal, another city in Kerala, about 120 miles northwest of Palai.
Sudhakaran is the only breadwinner of his family, and supports his wife and his mother. The low-cast Hindu man has lost his job, and sold his house to pay for the treatment costs of dialysis. He was diagnosed with kidney failure two years ago.
“If I can save the life of Sudhakaran, a family would be saved,” Bishop Muricken said.
The procedure is taking place June 1 at a private hospital in Kochi, another city in Kerala. Bishop Muricken has helped to pay for lab tests as well as ancillary costs for the treatment.
For his part, Sudhakaran has thanked the bishop for offering to save his life.
Fr. Anithottathil Gervasis, secretary of the Palai diocese, reflected that “This is a great selfless act of Bishop Muricken in the spirit of the Year of Mercy. Bishop Muricken’s generosity has practically taught us a moral example in reaching out to save life.”
Fr. Gervasis said the bishop’s act is no publicity stunt, and that he is regarded as one of the simplest persons among the bishops. He added that the bishop is happy and has only asked for prayers so that he could continue to work and be a witness for Christ and to his people.
Bishop Muricken was himself inspired to kidney donation by Fr. Davis Chiramel, founder of the Kidney Federation of India. The organization has arranged for 15 priests and six religious sisters to donate their kidneys to unrelated, needy recipients.
A year ago Bishop Muricken attended a seminar on organ donation organized by Fr. Chiramel, and he took the challenge personally.
People of diverse beliefs have praised the bishop’s plan to donate his kidney.
“Donating an organ while living to save a life requires tremendous courage and is worth more than donations of money or wealth to institutions,” Anil Belurkar, a local businessman, told CNA.
“The bishop, in his own way, has set a great example especially for all types of leaders to set love in action rather than merely preaching by words,” Anil added.
He said Bishop Muricken's act would help break down taboos in India against organ donation.