I have been curious about how organs are transported for transplantation for a long time.
As a result, I have developed a concept for a device I call the Organ Saver, a mobile storage unit specially designed to keep donated organs from deteriorating while in transit to waiting transplant recipients.
My curiosity about organ transport and transplantation has driven me to learn as much as possible about biomedical and other technologies because I want to design my concept for this device to help others.
My elementary technology teacher, Ms. Yanaka Bernal, encouraged me to develop the concept of the Organ Saver. She expressed the importance of organ donation, and how seeing the way it changes people’s lives can inspire people to become organ donors.
At this point, I decided to do some research, and I was disappointed.
In terms of storage, I thought the transportation of organs was much more efficient. Worse than that, I learned that almost one-third of donated organs deteriorate to the point where they cannot be used before reaching their destination. This is why the waiting lists for organ donation are usually very long.
My mother, Ms. Shalini Arora, is the director of the Cecil County Department of Social Services and she is very supportive of me. She is a first generation Indian immigrant, and her determination and passion for her job and the people she works with keep me going when I feel like giving up.
She believes in me and my concept for the Organ Saver. With her help, I have attended STEM and biomedical camps at the University of Delaware, all of which made me want to dive deeper into researching how to build a working device from my idea. I knew the Organ Saver eventually could become a real machine designed to preserve organs better for longer periods of time.
Earlier this year, I received the opportunity to join Business Professionals of America, or BPA, which meets after classes at my school.
BPA gave me the opportunity to develop an idea for any product I wanted to create and present it for judging at a competition. My mind started racing as soon as the competition was announced — the Organ Saver was stuck in my head! I was being given the opportunity to research my concept and develop what I learned into a presentation that I could present to a panel who would judge my concept and how well I presented it.
I started by researching the U.S. Food & Drug Administration biomedical device classifications, as well as the rules and regulations for similar products and storage units. I looked at countless organizations that support organ donation.
Finally, I put together a presentation and brought it to the Business Professionals of America state leadership conference in February. I felt well prepared and excited to share my idea with the judges and was curious to know what they would think of it.
The judges indeed liked my concept. One, Mrs. Jensen, explained that she had a wonderful opportunity for me. She said that the first female African-American transplant surgeon, Dr. Velma P. Scantlebury, would be at the Wilmington University Pratt Student Center in New Castle the following evening to do a reading from her new autobiography.
Mrs. Jensen invited me to see Dr. Scantlebury with my mother, and we were excited to attend.
Dr. Scantlebury read from her autobiography and shared details about her journey in becoming the first African-American transplant surgeon.
The book reading was amazing, and I was fascinated as I listened to her story of what she had to go through. I purchased a copy of her book for myself and Dr. Scantlebury signed it. Then, she took the time to talk with me and explained that it was good that I was thinking about my concept at a young age. She said I should never doubt myself, and she posed with us for pictures.
I read Beyond Every Wall following our meeting. After only a few chapters, I could see the incredible determination that Dr. Scantlebury possessed and still demonstrates today.
There are many different kinds of heroes in the world, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to meet one of them.
Thanks to meeting Dr. Scantlebury and reading Beyond Every Wall, I am starting to think of ways not only to improve my Organ Saver concept but also to invent other new things that will help change the world.