Anil Srivatsa and his wife gave a very inspirational talk about the importance of organ donation, misconceptions about the process, and how we can take action within our own lives.
An accomplished business person, Anil’s life changed suddenly six years ago when his brother, a 47-year old neurosurgeon, asked him if he would give him a kidney. Without hesitation, he said yes. He then found the experience changed his life. First, like many of us, he learned that there are many misconceptions about organ donation. He had assumed his life would be diminished after surgery. He was fearful about the surgery, but decided it was the only thing to do. While there is a very small risk with any surgery, he not only has no after effects from it but feels “even healthier and stronger”. Anil asked he do one operation a month for a person who could not pay; his brother promised to do three!
Anil also discovered that over a million adults are waiting for kidneys, so the need is critical. Once tied to a dialysis machine, one in five will die within five years. Once his brother resumed his professional, he asked Anil how he could ever repay him. Armed with this knowledge and the impact his gift had made, Anil decided he needed “to be the change” and devote much of his life to educating others about the importance of donation.
For the last five years, he and his wife have traveled all over the world, sharing their stories and those of other donors. They sleep and travel in their RV. They have visited over 43 countries (Russia being the “hardest to get out of”) and talked face-to-face with over 75,000 people. He also participates in marathons and the worldwide Olympics for Donors/Recipients. This event, set for Houston this year, showcases the talents and determination of thousands of individuals whose lives have been lengthened by participating in donation.
He asked us to not only to spread the word about the importance of donation but to make it clear to our beloveds that we wished “all of our parts” be made available “post life”. Some asked why we had to discuss this if our wishes on our driver’s license was clear. He noted sometimes in some states and entire countries it is NOT enough. In the sorrow, some families recoil and may not be willing to sign off on the procedure(s). They may think you meant only organ donation, not more. He explained how half of all severely visually impaired/blind individuals are under the age of 6 and stressed the importance of eye, skin, and bone donations. It is critical, “while you can”, to be clear in what you what done or not done with your body after death. It literally could change the lives of many others.
Anil and his wife have two children who live in the U.S. Six months of the year, he works full-time for the Gift of Life on the road and runs a business in India the other six months. His brother continues to perform surgeries in India. His goal is to speak to over a million individuals and “we are clearly on our way”. He lauded us for our community service and urged us to “spread the word” about the benefits of donation.
Anil and Deepali Srivatsa and club president Jeff Revak
Anil and his wife received a huge round of applause. Only in passing did he note that he and his wife relied on donations for their gas money; quite a few members donated as they left the meeting.