The route map has been chalked. The journey is about to begin. Meet 48 year old Anil Srivatsa, CEO and Co-Founder Radiowalla Network Pvt. Ltd, who will be the man behind the wheels driving his wife, son and daughter and 3 others Geetu Dhillon, Vivek Singh and Vishwas Avathi for 80 days. This is not an ordinary journey. The Crew will be traveling across two continents- Asia and Europe, crossing 17 countries to reach their final destination- Scotland. This trip has been triggered to support a cause: Organ Donation.
Organ donation does not deplete the quality of life of both the donor and the recipient. One of the most prominent examples of this is Anil and his brother Dr Arjun Sritvatsa, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Columbia Asia Hospital. Almost Two years ago, when Dr. Arjun was diagnosed with kidney failure, Anil donated a kidney to his brother and saved his life. Today, both the brothers are leading healthy and normal lives.
Addressing the media on the eve of the flag off to his road trip, Anil said, “Our aim is to reach John O Groats, the northern tip of Scotland. We chose this destination basically because we wanted to drive as far as we can and it’s the farthest we can travel by road without having to ship the car across stretches of ocean or sea.” “Why not drive in India I have been asked often and my simple answer has been that it’s too easy and not as challenging. After all India is home and home is always more comfortable” he added
The entire trip is going to take close to three months. During their journey Anil and his family will be spending nights in hotel rooms, hostels or the welcoming homes of people they know and don’t know along the way and where possible or have to, in tents and sleeping bags.
“We’re looking forward to doing some camping as well so we’ve got our tents and sleeping bags ready,” said an excited and practical Anil.
The main purpose of this trip is to generate awareness about organ donation across geographies. But how does the team of seven aim to do this? “The idea is to get people to notice us doing something extra ordinary, ask what we’re doing and why and in this way get people talking about organ donation. The main reason many people don’t opt in for becoming an organ donor is misinformation. Through our social media posts from the trip and interactions with people along the way, we want to be able to continue getting attention and then introducing the messages about organ donation and myth busting information to get rid of the common misconceptions associated with organ donation,” added Anil.
“We get umpteen queries from patients seeking Kidney Transplantation. The number of recipients undergoing Hemo-dialysis in the waiting list for Transplant is huge and swelling! Also, in most instances family members are not willing to become Donors as they believe it would adversely affect their day-to-day life. It therefore, becomes essential for all of us to increase awareness & education on the Transplantation processes and post-transplant life to prospective donors, remove the stigmas associated with it and motivate family members to Donate,” said Dr. Prashanth, General Manager, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal.
Generating awareness about organ donation is the need of the hour. “In a country like India, pledging your organs for donation is not enough because the family is given the ultimate decision making power. This makes it important for all family members to understand and accept a person’s request to be an organ donor. Family support is critical. Also, the strict nature of donation laws makes it far easier for people to donate their organs to a family member than to donate it to anyone else in the case of live organ donors,” said Dr Kanchan Sanyal, CMS- Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur.
Thanking his brother for gifting him a second innings of life, Dr Arjun said, “Patients in need of organ donation need to register themselves and wait long for cadaver organs. Many lose their life while waiting for an organ donor. The best option in such a case is to get the organ from a family member,” said Dr Arjun
“Karnataka is one of the leading states for kidney transplants and Bangalore in particular is important. The major challenge for kidney transplant is shortage of donors. Despite increase in deceased donor transplants in the state only a miniscule percentage of transplants are from deceased donors. The live donor program is very important for kidney transplant program and anil Srivatsa s efforts to promote the gift of life program for organ donation more so kidney donation is laudable. God has given us 2 kidneys and 1 in 1000 is born with 1 kidney telling us that we should donate 1 of our kidneys to our near and dear ones and save lives. Kidney donors are heros and should be honored and recognized. Hospitals media and society should spread this message. The government needs to simplify rules of organ donation and save lives,” said Dr. Sundar Sankaran, Chief Nephrologist, Columbia Asia Hospitals
Apart from his family members, Anil will be accompanied by Vishwas Avathi, film maker and photographer, Geetu Dhillon, working with Infosys, and Vivek Singh, supply chain manager at a pharmaceutical company.