Kerala: From murder convict to organ donor, Sukumaran’s unique story of transformation

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For Sukumaran, life has come a full circle 11 years since that fateful day when he attacked and killed his uncle over a trivial matter. Sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010, Sukumarans transformation is an extraordinary tale of sacrifice and redemption. At the age of 40, he hacked his uncle to death with a chopper and went to jail before he embarked on a long legal battle. Interestingly, his battle was not against his murder conviction but for a noble cause – the rights of prisoners to organ donation, reported The Indian Express. Earlier this year, he gave a new lease of life to a 20-year old woman by donating one of his kidneys. He also mobilised funds to help the ailing wife of a fellow prisoner who died soon after being released from the jail. Today, he is all set to marry her, and adopt her 4-year-old son, the IE report said. My life has come a full circle since the day when I attacked my uncle in the year 2007 over a trivial matter. I felt guilty the moment uncle Vasus blood fell on me and I myself informed the police, Sukumaran recalls in conversation with IE. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on October 28, 2010 by the Palakkad district sessions court. While being lodged in the Kannur central jail, he says, he could not forget his crime and the injustice he had committed on the family. He had In December 2014, he read an inspiring story of a couple, Arya Maharshi and Simi from Thrissur, who had donated their kidneys to non-related recipients in a newspaper report. Later, the couple conducted a session at the prison. Sukumaran, along with other convicts, expressed their desire for a kidney donation to the jail Sukumaran came to know about a 26-year-old, TV Sreekumar, who was suffering from a kidney ailment. The states Prisons department, however, replied in a negative and said there was no rule to allow a prisoner to donate an organ. On July 24, 2015, Sukumarans fellow prisoner Sreekumar died of a kidney ailment. But I could not let go, he says. So, he approached the jail authorities again and this time copying his letter to the then Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala. The state government, then, referred the matter to the Law Department, which held there was no hurdle to prevent a convict from donating organs and a government order was issued to this effect one year later. Sukumaran had moved the Kerala High Court against his sentence in the meantime. In October 2015, the High Court commuted his life term to ten years of imprisonment and transferred him to the open jail in Thiruvananthapuram. Sukumaran was released in July 2017 for his good conduct. I could not fight for a prisoner After my release from the jail, I was sent to Guruvayur-based Santhi Medical Information Centre, which helps people who need kidney transplants, With the help of this medical centre, he reached Princy Thankachan, 21, of Kollam who had been undergoing dialysis for last five years. Considering her age, doctors recommended a kidney transplant was the best option. The money required for the transplant surgery was raised through crowdfunding and the renal transplant was done five months ago. Sukumaran began to take odd jobs for daily wages after his release and started living in a lodge at Pattambi. In August 2017, he contacted A Basheer, a fellow convict who was convicted of theft and had been released before. Basheers wife Samitha answered the phone. She told me that Basheer had died of a cardiac arrest in 2017, I and Basheer had a love marriage. My family had abandoned me after our marriage and everyone hated us when Basheer was convicted in a theft case. After his death, I was alone with my four-year-old son, But, with the support from the medical information centre, Sukumaran helped me get hospitalised, Samitha recovered after two months. We talked to each other about our stories and soon realised we are in the same situation. When she was discharged from the hospital, I took her in my life, The two began to live together and shifted to a rented home near Pattambi. Meanwhile, Sukumaran says, he had already got distanced from his wife and two children while in jail. He had transferred the eight cents of land that he owned to his wife to help her source money for their daughter Later, a dispute over financial matters estranged me from the family completely, K V Mahesh, the then welfare officer at Kannur He began by donating his wages from jail work to the needy people outside. Soon, he started motivating fellow prisoners for organ donation.