Saffron Day, celebrated annually on 22 October, aims to cultivate a collective understanding of the importance of organ and tissue donation and compelling people to register as donors.
It also provides a unique lens into the importance of organ donation within the Indian subcontinent diaspora in Australia, as tissues can only be donated to those from a similar ethnic background.
Saffron Day was inspired by little Deyaan Udani, who heard about organ donation at school. The topic touched a chord deep enough within him to discuss it with his family at home, as he wanted to help save the lives of others.
Perhaps the seven-year-old was being prescient, because only months later, he had made the ultimate sacrifice by saving the lives of four other people, after suffering a brain hemorrhage on a visit to India.
The campaign was launched by his parents Rupesh and Mili Udani and sister Naisha in 2017 (under the aegis of the spiritual organisation Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur). They call it Saffron, not only as the colour symbolising sacrifice and selflessness, but also as it happens to be Deyaan’s favourite colour.
On their website, the Udanis provide some interesting facts:
- There are 1,700 Australians on a waitlist for a transfer.
- Organ donation transformed over 1,700 lives using 238 living organ donations and 554 deceased organ donations last year.
- Australia is recognised on an international basis for organ donation success rates and for the long-term survival rates of the people who receive the organ donation.
And yet, did you know:
- You are eligible to donate even if you have chronic health conditions.
- Most people who have signed up as donors have not discussed this with their families.
- Regardless of whether your license shows you as a donor, you have to register with the Australian Organ Donor Registration database.
To learn more about these and other facts about organ donation, Saffron Day has typically encouraged people to turn up in orange and register their decision to save lives as an organ and tissue donor.
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While this year Saffron Day is primarily focused on electronic media awareness campaigns due to COVID-19, it has in the past been a day to send the message out through various initiatives including social media engagements, holding stalls at events, plantation drives, food drives for homeless people, and spiritual discourses.
While these initiatives have generally met with a positive response, Rupesh divulged that there have been challenges.
“There are cultural taboos, differing beliefs, and complexity in communicating with diverse communities,” Rupesh revealed. “It is difficult to connect with people from some communities as they often hold different beliefs regarding death and giving and donating organs. Sometimes, people think I am selling a product or service.”
At other times, Rupesh divulged, many people are fascinated with the story behind the cause, but do not eventually sign up to become donors themselves.
Nonetheless, the difficulties and challenges in campaigning always motivate Rupesh to do more work in helping the community recognise the importance of organ and tissue donation.
To continue the memory of Deyaan and educate people on how organ donation can save lives, Rupesh hopes that eventually there will be a World Saffron Day, where people across the globe recognise and celebrate the day on 22 October each year.
“Ultimately, I want everyone to associate the colour orange with organ donation, because that’s the colour of love, sacrifice and selflessness,” Rupesh expressed.
So, bring out that orange t-shirt, and #doitfordeyaan.
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