On Sept. 1, I will put aside my media executive duties and kick-start a cross-continental journey, driving across North and South America for a cause.
Donating a kidney to my brother in 2014 led to the creation of the Gift of Life Adventure (GOLA), a series of overland expeditions aimed at spreading organ donation awareness. When I donated my kidney, I had no idea I would become a champion for organ donation. That was never my plan. I always loved driving, but the universe pushed me into my car and onto the road with a renewed sense of purpose.
By driving around the world to promote awareness about organ donation the hope is to encourage people to start a conversation at home, and to recruit ambassadors for the Million Donor Project. We also hope that my story inspires courage and helps people come forward to gift a life to family members, especially those undergoing dialysis. This is a story about the power of love. Love was the reason I went through what I did for my brother. In my opinion, love is the only reason anyone would donate an organ to somebody else — love for somebody you know personally or love for helping a stranger in need. Love is the only thing.”
So far, I’ve driven across 40 countries and logged over 43,000 miles to take the message about organ donation to schools, colleges, organizations and social gatherings worldwide. After traveling the world, I’ve decided that it was time to (literally) drive the message home in the United States.
Before beginning this drive in September, I’ll be participating in the World Transplant games held in the United Kingdom in late August, representing India in the 100-meter sprint event. People often worry about not being able to return to an active lifestyle after donating an organ, but I’m living proof that not only can life go back to the way it was, it can also get much better.
A related organization is the Gift of Life Adventure (GOLA) Foundation. The GOLA Foundation is a nonprofit that is committed to influencing legislation related to organ donation. This is done by taking up legal cases which could serve as a precedent for legislative amendments that would reduce red tape and simplify the processes involved in live organ donations. So far, the GOLA Foundation has successfully helped three patients to get their transplants by filing writ petitions in the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore, India. This sets a case law precedent for future cases that are similar in nature.
Anil Srivatsa's career in media has included TV (as senior VP of affiliate sales and operations at ImaginAsian TV), radio, the internet and content production (Medical Detectives).