SODA Spotlight: Aryana Motlagh's Personal Connection to Organ Donation
Written by Nicole Nidea, Program Manager, with insights from Aryana Motlagh, Founder of SODA at Miami Palmetto Senior High School
Aryana Motlagh is a student at Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Pinecrest, Florida. In January 2021, Aryana founded a SODA chapter at her school in honor of her father who is in need of a kidney transplant. Aryana shared more about her connection to organ donation with Nicole Nidea, SODA's Program Manager. Read their conversation below to learn more about Aryana's passion for organ donation.
Q: Why did you start a SODA chapter?
A: I started a SODA chapter because, as I started my organ donation advocacy, I saw a lack of desire from my generation and a lack of representation of us in organ donation advocacy, and I wanted to be part of that change. I also wanted to expand my message and reach with my personal story. My dad is on the waiting list for a kidney donation because he has a genetic condition called Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). My grandfather passed from PKD, and I may have PKD too.
Aryana and her dad, Alireza
Q: How does your SODA chapter educate your community about organ donation?
A: SODA at Miami Palmetto Senior High School educates our community by bringing experts in organ donation to present at our school, training chapter members to virtually present in classrooms (we have educated over 550 students and teachers this year), posting on social media, going to our school's blood drives and tabling, and more!
Q: Why should students educate their friends and family about organ donation?
A: Students should educate their friends and family about organ donation because it's a matter of life and death for so many people. I care deeply about organ donation because of my dad. He is on dialysis, waiting for someone to save his life with transplant.
You have the power to give life to people like Aryana's dad. Register to be an organ donor here!
Q: What advice would you give to students who want to start a SODA chapter?
A: Don't be afraid to start a chapter! The process is super easy – just fill out their eligibility quiz, find a few peers to support you, and submit an official chapter application. Once you're part of an official SODA chapter, SODA National supports their chapters in anyway they can, including mentorship, free t-shirts and supplies, connections to other organizations, funding for events, and so much more.
Ready to begin the process of starting your own SODA chapter? Visit our Chapters page to learn more.
Thank you, Aryana, for advocating for organ donation, leading a SODA chapter, and sharing your story.