For Jyotindra Mithani of Mumbai, blood donation is not about saving one life, but also the lives of those depending on that person. He first donated blood for Indian soldiers in 1977 and has been doing every three months for the past 42 years.
“Even now after all these years, I remain calm and composed when the nurse ties a tourniquet on my arm. It does not bother me when the needle is inserted into my vein and the nurse places the glass tube on the holder. Last year was the 151st time I donated blood. I have been donating blood every three months for the past 40 years,” recalls Jyotindra Mithani, sharing his most recent experience with YourStory.
In a country that’s short of blood, Mithani is showing the way out to millions of people.
Official data shows that India had a dearth of 1.9 million units of blood - equivalent to 60 tankers - in 2016-17. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, this blood could have helped with more than 320,000 heart surgeries or 49,000 organ transplants. The shortage is an increase from a shortage of 35 tankers (1.1 million units) in 2015-16, when India was 9 percent short of its 12 million unit target, according to an IndiaSpend report.
Mithani and blood donation zeal
The urge to donate blood ran high for Mithani in February 1977, when he heard a radio appeal to donate blood for the Indian Army after the Indo-Pakistan war.
“As soon as I got to know about the shortage of blood, I went to the designated location to donate. Since then, there has been no looking back. I made it my life’s mission,” says Jyotindra Mithani, whose blood group is A+.
Mithani, a resident of Mira Road in Mumbai, has been donating blood every three months since then. Initially, his parents and family members were against him donating blood so often and said he would eventually become anaemic.
But Mithani managed to convince them. “I told them about how it (becoming anaemic after donating blood) is a myth and pointed out that donating blood has multiple medical benefits like the restoration of blood cells and maintenance of a healthy heart,” he says.
Helping save numerous lives
Mithani, a middle-level manager at a stockbroking firm, has donated blood at several hospitals across Mumbai. He has given blood 54 times at Nanavati Hospital in Vile Parle and 45 times at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Girgaon.
Mithani is renowned for his immense contribution to the cause of blood donation in his locality. Hence, it is not surprising that the serial blood donor gets anonymous requests for donations.
“I still remember that day when I was approached by a stranger at my door. He pleaded with me to donate blood to his mother who was critical. He claimed he had tried reaching out to a lot of people for A+ blood, but in vain. So I rushed with him to Virar Sanjeevani Hospital. The doctor said a delay of a couple of hours could have cost the life of his mother,” Mithani recalls.
In 2008, when the Mumbai attacks left around 700 people injured, Mithani swung into action immediately.
“There is no greater deed than saving the life of a person, and timely blood donation can help this cause. As soon as I came to know about the requirement I promptly went to KEM Hospital in Parel to donate blood to people injured in the 26/11 attack,” Mithani says.
Message to young ‘blood’
The need for blood is high in India. The country has a shortage of 1.9 million units of blood which could have aided 3,27,187 heart surgeries, 49,078 organ transplants, 39,262 accident victims, and 98,156 bone marrow transplants, according to a report published by the University of Pune in 2018.
Alphonse Kurian, the President of Lions Club of Sanjaynagar in Bengaluru, has been promoting the cause of blood donation across social media and has also been associated with several awareness campaigns. He believes that blood donations are of utmost importance in today’s times.
“There are many hurdles when it comes to donating blood. People are so ignorant that even if they know of a requirement, they do not come forward to give blood. I really appreciate those who come forward for this cause repeatedly,” Alphonse says.
However, despite the critical need and demand for blood, there are very few people like Mithani who donate regularly.
“I am driven to save not only one person’s life, but also the lives of many others who depend on that person,” he says.
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