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Living beyond death: International student saves nine lives in Australia through organ donation

Indian student Rakshitha Mallepally transformed the lives of nine Australians through organ donation. Source: Rakshitha's family

An Indian international student who died in a road accident has given a new lease of life to nine Australians after all her organs were donated.

"We are emotionally devasted by the loss of our daughter, but now we feel happy that she has been a source of life for others," say the parents of Rakshitha Mallepally, an international student who died late last year.

The 20-year-old, who had been studying for a Bachelor of Information Technology, died after sustaining serious head injuries following a motorcycle accident in New South Wales. 


  • Rakshitha Mallepally's organs have saved nine lives, according to NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service
  • The international student's parents were initially against the idea, but then consented
  • Donate Life Week will be held from 25th July - 1st August 2021

Before her death, while in an induced coma in hospital, doctors suggested the family consider organ donation and held a video conference call with them.

For parents Venkatesh and Anitha Reddy, living thousands of kilometres away near the Indian city of Hyderabad, it was the hardest decision to make.

"Initially we said no when we heard the news of my daughter. We were totally emotionally shattered and we were unable to make a decision - our minds went blank," a family spokesman quoted them as saying.

Indian student Rakshitha
Rakshitha (left)

Sreenadh J Brahmapuram, an Australia based community member involved with the family spoke with them and helped persuade them to change their minds. "I told them that Rakshitha will live beyond death," he told SBS Malayalam.

"We knew about organ donation a little, but when we were explained the significance of organ donation, we were inspired," says Rakshitha's father.

"Now I have myself become an organ donor. Now I am advocating to my friends to enrol for organ donation."

Seven people received her organs and two received her tissues - in total Rakshitha saved nine lives, according to NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service.

As her name suggests Rakshitha in Sanskrit means saviour, she became a saviour to many. 

Indian student Rakshitha
Rakshitha as a baby with her father

Rakshitha's parents remember their daughter as a very active and helpful girl, and after a community fundraising effort in Australia, her body has since been repatriated to India.

  • Approximately 1,700 Australians are currently waitlisted for a transplant.
  • A further 12,000 are on dialysis.
  • ln 2019, 1,683 lives were transformed by 548 deceased and 239 living organ donors and their families.
  • One in three Australians are registered donors despite the majority (69%) believing that registering is important.

Source: Organ and Tissue Authority

'Increase in organ donors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds' 

“With the steady increase in the number of people saying “yes” to donation over the years, we are also seeing an increase in organ donors from people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds" says Danielle Fisher, General Manager of NSW Organ and Tissue Donation.

And where the family is not in Australia, it adds a degree of complexity. 

"Our teams will contact that family, often working with interpreters if they don’t speak English to ensure that they understand what has happened," she says.

"This often happens over a number of conversations.  It’s really important the family do understand what has happened to their loved ones and have an opportunity to come to terms with that and then understand organ donation or tissue donation and are then able to make a decision about that." 

A range of resources are available to help promote organ and tissue donation and transplantation in multicultural communities, with resources specifically for multicultural and faith communities, including in 18 languages.

Organ donation.
Getty Images/CatLane

In 2016, a Sydney-based Indian Australian family came forward to donate their son Deyaan's organs, after the seven-year-old died from a blood clot and haemorrhage on his brain.

The family started a campaign called Saffron Day aimed at raising understanding of organ and tissue donation among Indian and other communities.

"My real aim is to just give people (an understanding of) what organ donation is and why it is so important in society," Deyaan's father, Rupesh Udani, says.

"To go and tell people - look organ donation is the best thing to do. Because not only are you saving lives, you are saving friends and family from going through all this pain."

This year Donate Life Week will be held from 25th July - 1st August 2021.




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