Our Turn to Reuse

More than nine lakh candidates appear for the UPSC civil service exam every year; however, only 1000 are selected for the 24 services of UPSC. And only the top few hundred andidates are selected in Indian Foreign Services i.e. IFS. Though becoming an IFS officer is no easy eat, the right spirit turns even the impossible into possible.

Meet Mr Atul Gotsurve — an IFS officer with the spirit, mind, and heart inclined for society’s betterment.

As an ex-Regional Passport Officer, Mr Gotsurve believes, “Passport is every Indian citizen’s fundamental identity right.” While at office, Mr Gotsurve stumbled upon a stark reality. Only 4-5% Indian citizens have a passport,” states Mr Gosturve. Other than spreading awareness about a passport’s importance, measures are being taken by the passport department to streamline the passport process and make it hassle-free.

During his tenure at Pune’s Passport Office, an old friend contacted Mr Gotsurve for help. “My friend, Harshad Doshi, approached me as an NGO’s representative. Their NGO, too, was working on some kind of awareness. I couldn’t decline!” says Mr Gotsurve bout his introduction to the field of organ donation.

“While interacting with them, I was informed of the depressing ratio of organ donors to recipients – 1:10000 is too wide a gap! I decided then and there that I will pitch in to spread awareness to the best of my capacity,” recounts Mr Gotsurve.

Despite being the world’s second most populous country, India’s organ donation rate is one of the lowest.

Mr Gotsurve immediately recognised the underlying problem. He says, “Lack of awareness is the root cause. Discussing death is a taboo in our society; organ donation, naturally, remains unspoken of.”

A solution-seeker, Mr Gotsurve advocates, “We, as responsible and aware citizens, must ensure that we change the scenario. Through campaigns, talks, events, and all possible methods, we must make certain that organ donation is dinner-table talk. People must not hesitate when they find themselves in a situation.”

Organs can be donated by three types – living donor, deceased donor (cases of natural death), and brain dead donor. The public must be made aware about the condition termed ‘brain death’. Once brain death occurs, despite the ventilator, the organs will eventually start to fail. This is why awareness is crucial so that the families can opt or withdraw donating their kin’s organs without wasting precious time.

Mr Gotsurve divulges his gameplan, “To meet the pressing need of donors, we must implement a multi-pronged strategy!”

He, thus, lays the following approaches:
• Creating mass awareness about the benefits of organ donation through social media and print media
• Clearing the myths about organ donation
• Making organ donation process easy for donor and his/her family
• Making use of institutional mechanisms for faster delivery of donated organ to the needy

“ReBirth, in its unique way, is determined to spread mass awareness through all possible means,” comments Mr Gotsurve. He testifies, “I was invited for the launch of their helpline number in August 2016. The idea was a success; the Government of Maharashtra endorsed the helpline number further.”

A regular guest at ReBirth’s events, Mr Gotsurve remarks, “ReBirth has come up with remarkably creative events to engage people about organ donation. The Green Corridor Short Film Competition and Rangathon attract a humungous amount of attention as well as participation.”

ReBirth aims to convert Pune’s annual two-digit figures of organ donation to four-digits by employing innovative methods. Mr Gotsurve volunteered to play a role to the best of his capacity. He says, “On an average, Pune’s Passport Office has 1500 visitors per day. Until they await their turn, what if the visitors were to read something informative? Imagine the number of people we can reach out to in this way!”

After the required permissions, ReBirth set up standees inside the Passport Offices of Pune (1500 footfall), PCMC (250 footfall), Bhamburda (500 footfall), and Kolhapur (250 footfall) with the help of Mr Gotsurve.

“The image and caption ReBirth came up with has instant connect. I would like to believe that we were able to introduce, if not convert, the concept of organ donation with the help of these standees,” smiles Mr Gotsurve.

He concludes with a request, “Organ Donation is a noble task of humanity. It helps donors to continue staying alive, even after death, by helping the needy. It cannot be measured in monetary terms. The reuse of organs post death reduces to a great extent the misery and suffering of the needy. Please help create awareness in every way you can!”

Atul Gotsurve
(Indian Foreign Services)
Ministry of External Affairs
Government of India

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