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Organ donor drives from Italy to Dubai to raise awareness

Asma Ali Zain /Dubai
asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 12, 2017
Organ donor drives from Italy to Dubai to raise awareness
Anil Srivastava with his customised vehicle in Dubai on Thursday.

(Shihab)

Anil, a journalist by profession, started off by developing an app where people could sign up and show intent.


A live organ donor - who has toured 38 countries and two continents - has driven all the way from Italy to Dubai in three months to raise awareness about organ donation.

Anil Srivastava, 49, a US national, started the 'Gift of Life Adventure Drive for the Million Donor' project two years ago after having to donate a kidney to his brother who had complete kidney failure. In these two years, Anil has toured 38 countries to raise awareness about the importance of donating an organ.

"My brother's illness was an emotional time for all of us," he told Khaleej Times before leaving for Oman for 10 days. "I was afraid and very emotional. After the donation ... I thought about giving back to life and hence the idea of Gift Of Life came about."

Anil, a journalist by profession, started off by developing an app where people could sign up and show intent. He then thought of starting a conversation with people, who like his family, could be waiting for an organ transplant. "This led me to start the Gift of Life Adventure Drive and am hoping to get a million people from around the world to sign up.

"I wanted to do something that is not normal, hence the idea of a drive around the world to raise awareness."

In a customised vehicle, Anil started the journey, on its third leg now. The first leg started from Spain six months after the success of his brother's surgery. Last year, Anil drove for 73 days from Bangalore to Northern Scotland. The third part started on December 31 from Italy and is ongoing.

Anil arrived in Dubai on March 9 and is headed to Oman for a 10-day awareness drive. Through his journey, he has been to countries such as China, Norway, Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Bosnia. During the first part, he visited 17 countries and 20 in the second leg.

"It's been a journey where I have met different and very nice people along the way," he said. "Many of them have been curious but I have also come across ignorance, superstition and curiosity," he explained, adding that he found it difficult to get people to sign up.

"After death, relatives are the sole people who can take any decision on donating organs and this can only be done if a conversation is started during the donor's lifetime," he said. Even if someone has signed up with a donor bank, in many cases the death is never reported to the bank. "It is important to have this discussion with relatives."

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com

author

Asma Ali Zain

Associated with KT for 15 years. Covers health issues, Pakistan community, human interest stories as well as general topics for daily news or features.





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