He sacrificed part of his own liver to save the life of Shyamasundar Dasa (see: Devotee Pioneer Receives Life-saving Transplant) and now he is recovering at home. Gopinatha Dasa talks with ISKCON News about his experience.
Along with the rest of us, Gopinatha Dasa saw the message sent out by Malati Devi Dasi asking for devotees with the right blood group and body size to come forward as possible liver donors. He realized he had the right blood group and this got him thinking seriously about what he could do. "I tried to figure out what it means to transplant" he said. This led to some research. "Then I realized it was a big deal. In a phone call with my spiritual master, Radanatha Swami, he told me I should discuss it with my wife and that if I am able to do this sacrifice there would be eternal benefit."
Gopinatha responded to Malati's email and became one more than 30 people who would be tested by the Chicago hospital in the search for the appropriate donor. Before long the news came that Gopinatha was the candidate they were looking for.
It was made clear that the operation would not be without risk. "There have been 6,000 such surgeries all over the world," Gopinatha said. "Thirteen donors have died so a risk of death was there." The donor would also have their gallbladder removed.
Asked how those close to him responded Gopinatha replied: "My wife Parijata took a very short time to understand the situation." He maintains that Parijatta took the first risk in accepting he should undergo the surgery which could end his life. "She is very brave and dedicated to Srila Prabhupada," He said. "Many devotees expressed deep concerns and some friends still can't understand why I did it."
At their first meeting Shyamasundar Dasa, who needed the operation due to a liver tumor, was extremely grateful. "He said Krishna and Srila Prabhupada will personally oversee the surgery," Gopinatha remembered. "My reply was I am doing this just to please my spiritual master and if he is pleased my life is successful," Gopinatha said.
During the operation Gopinatha lost blood and had part of his liver removed along with his gall bladder. The body can regenerate the missing piece of liver without great difficulty. "I was taking some extra proteins during the hospital stay and after surgery," Gopinatha said. "Then I was asked by my surgeon to resume normal diet, to eat as I like."
Many devotees are in awe of Gopinatha's actions and inspired by his bravery and willingness to freely offer himself. "Well, if we consider ourselves as the army of Lord Caitanya, where is the question of free will?" Gopinatha said. "If there is any such emergency we must grab the opportunity to serve and get eternal benefit. We have to show this world what devotion means and what it means to please our spiritual master through our own examples" he said.
Although praise continues to pour in, Gopinatha has his own perspective on the issue. "Praise is like poison, as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur says," Gopinatha said. "I have not done any great selfless act, but it's my selfish service to go back to Godhead early and secured. Srila Prabhupada has created this wonderful ISKCON for us to stand up for each other in time of need. Please pray for me that I don't become proud and fall down. Help me remain humble please. My request is to just beg for blessings and encouragement."
I am recovering well and there is progress every day, thanks to the prayers of all devotees," Gopinatha said. "Thank you very much for everything."[ surgery ]