During Amol's freshman year at Yale, his roommate Richard approached him with the idea of starting an organ donation awareness organization. Richard had experienced the unfortunate reality of the organ crisis in America as his aunt had passed away after years of waiting on the national transplant waiting list. As Amol learned more about organ donation, he realized the gravity of the shortage. Annually, approximately 6,000 patients with organ failure expire from lack of available organs, and only 35-50% of candidates' families consent to donation, serving as the most common reason that possible transplants fail to materialize. What really struck Amol were studies that over 70% of Americans support organ donation when fully educated about the donation process. Realizing that this discrepancy largely results from a natural, yet unfortunate, disinclination towards discussing organ donation, Amol and Richard soon formed a clear mission: to educate the community about organ donation and to register those wishing to be donors. During the spring of 2004, Students for Organ Donation (SOD) was born.
SOD held its first ever "Donate Life Week," at Yale in April of 2004. The goal of the on-campus registration drive was to educate the Yale community about organ donation, distribute donor cards to those wishing to be donors, and notify their families of their decision by sending postcards home. The event proved vastly successful as SOD signed up over 1,100 students as donors. "Donate Life Week" is now an annual event that represents the culmination of educational drives and speaker series throughout the year.
While SOD at Yale has grown to over 50 members, more impressive has been the 70 chapters at colleges and high schools across the country with a committee based at Yale that oversees their operation. Total membership now exceeds over 1,000 students. In addition to campus drives, SOD has also expanded its educational campaigns to raise awareness in local communities. Working with organ procurement organizations and religious networks, SOD has shown much success in disposing of preconceived notions concerning an organ donation.
SOD is an inspiring example of how a coordinated effort among students, utilizing only limited school funding, can result in significant returns. SOD has grown to become one of the largest student run volunteer organizations, and it will only continue to expand in the future. Indeed, when SOD becomes officially incorporated in the State of Connecticut this spring, Amol will be serving as one of four Directors on the national Board, and he is committed to maintaining an advisory position after graduation. SOD has been a driving force for creating a pervasive social conscience among students concerning an issue that affects a vast number of people, and Amol's involvement with the organization truly reflects upon his character. It shows his dedication to health issues as a premedical student and his leadership as a citizen, both of which are exhibited not only through SOD but through all of the work that he does.