Jyotsna Bose: India’s First Woman to Donate her Body for COVID Research

by Adarsh Modi

Jyotsna Bose: India’s First Woman to Donate her Body for COVID Research

May 22, 2021

Jyotsna Bose, a 93-year-old former trade union leader from Kolkata, became the "first woman" in the country whose body has been donated for medical research to find out the effects of coronavirus on humans. Her contribution in the fight against the pandemic is right on par with all the frontline workers out there.

India has been inching towards the number one spot in the world for cumulative covid cases with massive spikes every day in both the new cases and daily deaths. Hospitals are overflowing, critical medical supplies are dwindling, cemeteries and cremation grounds face a  barrage of the dead,  and the frontline medical personnel are hanging on by a thread. The infrastructure is dangerously close to implosion. Yet, we live a day at a time, with new vaccines and new medicines strengthening the fight. 

Last year we knew little about the virus. This time we know a little bit more. That has only been possible because of the ongoing research and studies at various institutions. Without seeing the battlefield, there would be no counter fight. 

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Pathological Front

In another first in the ongoing research of the virus, a 93-year-old lady from Kolkata became the first woman in the country to donate her body for COVID research after succumbing at the hands of the virus. Jyotsna Bose was a nonagenarian trade union leader in Kolkata, who contributed to studying the effects of the virus on the human body, said ‘Gandarpan’, the non-profit organization that led the cadaver donation in the state. 

The organization’s head Brojo Roy had a pathological autopsy conducted after death from Covid-19. Roy the pioneer of Gandarpan had had a life long wish for his body to be donated to the anatomy department of a medical college, but in a cruel turn of events, the wish could not be fulfilled as he contracted Covid-19 making his donation null and void. Another ophthalmologist from the state, Mr. Biswajit Chakraborty, aged 60, also donated his remains for the same purpose.

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Her Life

Bose was admitted to a hospital in the Beliaghata area of North Kolkata on 14th May, and she passed away two days later. Dr Tista Basu, her granddaughter, gave this statement to PTI,

“The pathological autopsy of my grandmother was conducted at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday. Hers is the first female body in the country donated for a pathological autopsy following death due to COVID-19.” 

“We do not know much about coronavirus as it is a new disease. We need to understand its full effect on organs and organ systems. Pathological autopsies help us in this quest.”

Jyotsna Bose was born in Chittagong, in present-day Bangladesh, in the year 1927. Her father went missing during World War 2 on a return trip from Burma, and his daughter had to step up to fulfil the family’s financial needs. She couldn’t complete her education and took up a job as an operator at British Telephones. She became involved with the trade union movement after participating in the Telegraph and Post strikes supporting the Naval Mutiny in 1946. Later, she married a prominent trade unionist Moni Gopal Basu. 

She continued her social and political work ever after retirement, which came to a fruitful end with her final contribution to society. 


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