HENRY COUNTY, GEORGIA, Police Officer Paramhans Desai gave his life in the line of duty. In his case, he continued giving even after his death.
Desai was an organ donor, but his legacy will go beyond even that act of generosity, thanks to Samaj Saves Lives, a volunteer group dedicated to promoting organ donation nationwide. Jayantilal “Jerry” Patel, a Samaj Saves Lives Ambassador and Mississippi-based hotelier, spoke at the officer’s funeral along with the deceased’s sister Divya Desai.
“I offered Divya, since he was an organ donor, that I would put up the billboards in the Atlanta metro area, to help the cause,” Jerry said. “The GoFundMe page [set up for the family,] I think it’s closed today at $345,000. That’s a lot of money.”
The GoFundMe campaign has closed, and the money will go to Desai’s family. The billboards, which Patel arranged as donation from Nick Brown with Lamar Outdoor Advertising of Atlanta, are in Rome and Cartersville, Georgia, and refer viewers to the Donate Life America website.
Officer Desai was shot and killed Nov. 4 while responding to a domestic violence call, according to local media reports. The officer was married and had two small children. He donated every organ he could except his eyes, Divya said.
“Giving up his life to save the lives of others was his purpose, and his purpose was and is served,” she said of her brother during the funeral. “The meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away.”
Patel, who also is a lifetime AAHOA member and president of Laxmi Trustpark Hospitality in Pearl, Mississippi, said he is a friend of the Desai family.
“The word ‘hero’ is often thrown around in the context of Marvel movies or DC Comics,” he said in his speech at the funeral. “True heroes sacrifice for others and give even when it hurts. They think for others before themselves. They are strong, kind and generous. No one can deny that officer Param was a true American hero.”
Divya said her family came to the U.S. in 1991 from the village of Gandevi, a suburb of Bilimora in the state of Gujarat. She said her brother was an example for others and a role model for his two sons.
“He did something little, always. He never stopped giving,” Divya said. “Even the day he died, the day he was shot, he made his wife make cookies, so he could take them for somebody who was living in not such a good condition. He wanted to help them because they didn’t have money for food.”
Samaj Saves Lives was founded by Bhupen Amin, president and chief operating officer of Lotus Hotels Inc. in Walnut Creek, California. As the organization’s ambassador, Patel mans a booth at industry trade shows, such as AAHOA’s regional meetings, to educate members about organ donation. The organization also has been active in India after providing medical supplies to the country during a surge in COVID-19 cases the country saw in the spring.
Patel described a particularly touching moment for him during the funeral when Divya noticed he was wearing a lapel pin for the organization.
“I had the organ doner label pin on my suit and she looked up and saw it,” he said. “She asked me for it, which I gave, and she pinned it on her brother’s officers uniform. So that was, to me, I felt proud that my pin was able to be worn on Officer Desai’s uniform.”