Thumps Up Toastmasters presents
A panel discussion with Debojit Bora
Introduction by Sonal Deolasi
Debojit Bora, who also goes by Dave Bora, is a retired resident of Camarillo, California, where he has been living with his family since 2010. After his graduation in Mechanical Engineering from IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Varanasi, in 1976, he worked in Mumbai for a few years before coming to the US in 1980 for post graduation studies at Rutgers University, NJ. His professional careers were mostly with Siemens, Ford Motor Company and Parker Hannifin (Aerospace) for which he lived in NJ, PA, MI and finally in CA. Through his work, and also for his personal passion, he extensively travelled in the US, Europe, Asia and South America. Mr. Bora has always been active volunteer at variety of organizations, such as Youth for Understanding (YFU a Global student exchange program) where he works as an Area rep mentoring youth for last 25 yrs. Other areas of volunteering work are with charitable organizations. He is also busy with the UCLA Hospital's CORE Kidney Group, and Post-transplant Patient Advisory Group. He is a regular yoga and meditation practitioner under the guidance Isha Yoga. Dave donated his kidney for his brother - here is his story
Storytelling by Ankur Bora
The popular concept of Karma is - the destiny one earns through his actions and behaviors, which is popularly expressed as “what goes around comes around”. People say, good karma produces good effects while bad karma produces bad effects. But I have learned a broader and wider meaning. Karma is the duty one must fulfil without the expectations of results. When you encounter a difficult situation – instead of shrinking away, you should face it, act upon it and fulfil your duty. Friends, this is a life lesson which I acquired over a period of two long decades from a special person – my uncle Dave Bora.
My uncle and I share the same last name, and we grew up in the same neighborhood in India. Although we are not related by blood, I call him uncle because of those shared relationships. The elder brother of my uncle, Rupam was a popular student leader whom we adored. He established a club house, a library, and a Table Tennis center for us. But in the prime of his life, at the young age of 25 year, Rupam was diagnosed with kidney disease, and he lost both his kidneys. I remember we were crestfallen when we received the news. Medical science for treating kidney failure was in its infancy, and there were not many options to prolong a diseased person’s life – everyone was heartbroken. But then his brother Dave rose to the occasion. Dave, at the age of 22 years, made a supreme sacrifice -he donated one of his own kidneys to his brother. Friends, when faced with unforeseen circumstances, we feel agitated, scared, frustrated, alone and tend to blame ourselves ; Why did this happen to me? But my uncle never questioned the tragic situation that befell his brother and himself. He saw the situation and he recognized his sacred duty, the karma, and fulfilled his obligation.
In January 1980 , Dave came to the United States to pursue advanced study. Once here, he realized that he could bring his brother , Rupam for advanced post transplant treatment, even though it would be a huge challenge financially. He was a newly arrived student; he had little money and experience. But the challenges did not deter him, he networked with local media (newspapers, TV) and appealed for help, his efforts and prayers were answered and he was able to bring his brother for treatment. Friends, he did not shy away in the battlefield of life, he faced it and fulfilled his karma.
His brother Rupam went back to his home country India and lived there for another 13 yrs. While uncle, Dave, settled down in the US and carried out an active and productive professional, social and family life. My uncle had been living a healthy life with one kidney till a few years ago when his kidney’s function started slowing down, and was left with the option to stay on dialysis for the rest of his life. Although he trained himself with the intricacies of the dialysis machine, over time, the years wore on him and his family – many days were filled with exhaustion, and despair. However, not giving up or getting discouraged, Dave started looking for transplant options and started working with various transplant facilities and organizations throughout the US.. The rapid advancements had made the transplant affordable and there was hope for my uncle. local transplant center, in the Los Angeles area, where Dave lives, had a huge number of patients who had already applied before him, and he was put on a waiting list –a long ten years, a hopeless situation.
Again, it was a battle but Dave was not ready to give up. Thus he created a video narrating his story – the circumstances under which he donated his own kidney for his brother and if anyone out of altruism, would donate his to Dave and thus give him a new lease on life. I remember watching the video; he bared his soul to the world. Again, he was doing his Karma with no expectation of result – there was no certainty if anyone would respond but he never stopped performing his duty. Then as if through a Divine intervention, one fine morning in November 2018, Dave received a call from a hospital called “Medical City Hospital” in Fort Worth, TX, with exciting lifesaving news that, “We have a kidney for you”. Dave arrived with his family immediately and had the transplant within 48 hours.
However, the post-surgery recovery did not go without challenges for Dave. Dave again faced another battle - his body was not cooperating with the newly transplanted organ. The situation was turning severe; I remember meeting my aunt, Dave’s sister. She was in tears as she was fearing the worst. But Dave never showed any outward sign of mental or emotional trauma. Instead, I saw his inner strength and equanimity as if he had freed himself from any worldly concerns. In the midst of the ordeal, he was inquiring about a Marathon I was planning to run for a cause close to my heart. As the race got closer, I was unsure about reaching that goal and even doubted my ability to finish the 26.2 mile course. But his words set me free – “Do your Karma; do not concern yourself with the results.” I was relieved to hear those wise words. They helped me in setting my mind free and I was successful in completing my run. My uncle’s transplant also finally worked and after three months he returned home with a functional, healthy kidney and a full life ahead.
Friends, the world is no less than a battlefield. You not only fight external battles with the world outside but also internal battles with your own body, mind, and spirit. In this battlefield of life, adversities, trials and hardships are inevitable. My uncle showed how to face it, act upon it, perform one’s Karma. Friends, let’s fight the battle of life, let’s do our Karma and let’s emerge better, stronger and wiser , we shall overcome, we shall prevail and we shall conquer.
Song and Music Phat Nguyen
QA Session compilation
The awareness campaign for organ donation and transplant is very important and worthwhile work. I am pleased that Thumps Up Toastmasters is getting the information out to the general population, hopefully someone, somewhere will benefit.
1) https://www.organdonor.gov/statistics-stories/statistics.html Organ sharing can be from deceased and living. In 2019 there were ~40,000 life saving transplants from deceased & living donors. 109,000+ people are on the waiting list for organs. Living donors can donate; kidney, lung, portion of liver or pancreas
2) To be a living donor one may register at any of the transplant performing hospitals, living donors selection process go through stringent physical and mental health evaluation. Organ compatibility is number 1 priority.
3) Sources of information are : National kidney Foundation (NKF), National Kidney Registry (NKR) for compatible pairing
4) Most important is the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), which connects all organ transplant hospitals and distributes organs nationwide.
5) Another is Organ Procurement and Transplantation network (OPTN).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhht9kslq04 Ned brook's TED Talk is very inspiring, at age 65 he became a living donor and went on to form the donor to donor org to inspire other living donors.