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No-one should die waiting for an organ transplant, speaker tells Rotarians
Anil Srivatsa, who speaks globally on the importance of organ donation, has driven to Murray Bridge from Melbourne to present a life-saving message.
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International public speaker and organ donor Anil Srivatsa has driven to Murray Bridge from Melbourne to give an impassioned speech to members of the Rotary Clubs of Mobilong and Murray Bridge.
The main message of Mr Srivatsa’s talk was that people should consider becoming organ donors, as no-one should die waiting for an organ transplant.
In 2014, Mr Srivatsa donated one of his kidneys to save the life of his brother, a neurosurgeon in India.
“My soul lives in my brother, and I live three lives now: my life, his life and our life together as siblings that I would not have had I not done what I did for him,” he said.
“I said to him, ‘Every time you pee, it’s sponsored by me’.”
As a result of the life-saving kidney transplant, Mr Srivatsa’s brother continues to save lives as a neurosurgeon.
Since donating his kidney, Mr Srivatsa has driven across 58 countries and shared his story with more than 260,000 people through delivering over 900 talks.
The TEDx speaker has also given more than 300 talks to Rotary clubs.
The two Rotary Clubs in Murray Bridge invited Mr Srivatsa to talk to their clubs, and he accepted the invitation without hesitation.
“It’s difficult to get an audience to talk about this, and when I find one, I will go as far as I can, so this was one of those,” he said.
“Usually, I drive an average of 800 to 900km straight out.
“In fact, I made a meeting once from the Grand Canyon to Dallas.
“Literally, I drove 21 hours straight to get there – there were 500 people waiting to hear what I had to say.
“My wife and I often fight over this because if there’s the Eiffel Tower two miles from me, I wouldn’t go to see it, but if a Rotary meeting’s 700km away, I would.”
Mr Srivatsa said that Australians were lucky to have a good healthcare system where everyone gets treated, but 80 per cent of the world can’t afford organ transplants and associated care and die.
“If someone dies, because they cannot afford it, that’s a shame on humanity,” he said.
He praised South Australia as being the only Australian state that allows people to nominate on their driver’s license that they want to be organ donors.
When Mr Srivatsa asked the Rotarians and guests at last Wednesday night’s meeting if they were organ donors, many attendees raised their hands, and he said that this was the biggest response he’d seen at any Rotary Club.
He said about the rural city of Murray Bridge, “You’re smaller than Geraldton, and they’ve taken the challenge (of promoting organ donation), so you certainly can”.
“Organ donation has three things that you can do to make it work: awareness, advocacy and philanthropy,” he said.
“You’ve invited the media here, and without the local media, awareness of this issue is impossible.
“The only other club that used the media to come into this talk was in Honduras.
“The media could do one story a week or a month about local people that have given an organ and highlight their life, talk about their families, make them heroes of your community.
“Also, ask the mayor if he can proclaim organ donation week in Murray Bridge –anything to keep this conversation alive in the minds of the community.”
Mr Srivatsa spoke of how many Indians, including himself, had images of Ganesh – the Indian deity with an elephant’s head – inside their cars.
“He’s the deity that is invoked before something important has to begin,” he said.
“For me, it’s my drive, to keep me safe.”
Mr Srivatsa told of how Ganesh, according to Hinduism, was originally a human, who was accidentally killed by his father, Shiva.
Shiva’s wife then gave her husband an order, according to Mr Srivatsa.
“The wife said, ‘I don’t care what you do. You’re God. You bring him back to life.’
“And he said, ‘Okay, I’ll find the first living thing that I find,” and it happened to be an elephant – really, he’s the first recipient of a transplanted head.”
Mr Srivatsa’s trip to Murray Bridge was a quick one, as he and his wife planned to drive back to Melbourne on Thursday.
After leaving Australia, he hoped to spread the word about organ donation in Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa.
More information about becoming an organ and tissue donor: donatelife.gov.au
More information about Anil Srivatsa’s Gift of Life Adventure Foundation: giftoflifeadventure.org.
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