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“I am an American, not by accident of birth, but by choice. I voted with my feet and became an American because I love this country and I think it is exceptional and will continue to be exceptional … I love this country for many reasons – the most important is that this is the only country where immigration is celebrated.”

These were words spoken by Dr. Rahul Jindal, an Indian-American transplant surgeon at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), when he accepted the Outstanding American by Choice award on Nov. 13, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, presents the government award in recognition of the recipient’s civic participation, professional achievement, and responsible citizenship efforts.

When asked why he became a U.S. citizen, Jindal, a native of Ahmedabad, India, said: “I came to this country because I wanted to give my children an equal opportunity; I wanted to contribute to society; and I wanted to participate in the political process.”

Jindal’s philanthropy work was one contributing factor for him receiving the award. As the director of the National Blood and Bone Marrow Drive Campaign, he assists southeast Asian-Americans in need of a transplant to find possible donors. This initiative has been sponsored by almost 600 U.S. temples that assist with the registration of south Asian-Americans to a marrow registry where people in need of a transplant can find them.

The doctor has also performed pioneering work in developing countries, setting up the first comprehensive kidney dialysis and kidney transplant program in Guyana, South America. Jindal and his team performed the country’s first living kidney transplant operation in July 2009, and he is working towards setting up a similar program in Antigua and Trinidad and Tobago, he explained.

Also professor of global health at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences on Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Jindal is a clinical professor of surgery at the George Washington University.

He’s authored more than 150 medical manuscripts, and co-authored a standard textbook used in programs around the world.

“Dr. Jindal is the epitome of what it means to be an American, and his story is another example of what makes American civilization exceptional,” said Kumar Barve, majority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates and one of the first Indian-American to be elected to a state legislature in the United States.