World Blood Donor Day: meet the people who are saving lives by promoting blood donation

India is staring at a shortage of a whopping 1.9 million units of blood according to official data presented in 2016-17. Many individuals are attempting to bridge this gap through awareness and technological interventions.

Donating blood is almost synonymous with saving lives. Many a time, blood transfusion is imperative for people suffering from illnesses and medical conditions such as anaemia, haemophilia, cancer, and sickle cell disease, to survive. 

The world health organisation (WHO) recommends the blood requirement of just one percent of a country’s population be used as a ballpark estimate of its blood needs. Going by those estimates, India is staring at a shortage of a whopping 1.9 million units of blood, according to 2016-17 statistics by the Government of India, which translates to around 60 tankers.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, this blood could have helped with more than 3.2 lakh heart surgeries, or 49,000 organ transplants.

The only way to bridge this gap is by encouraging people to donate blood voluntarily, and the World Blood Donor Day, celebrated on June 14 every year, strives to do just that.

Not many know that donating blood not only helps the recipient, but also the donor. It assists them in controlling their weight, keeps the liver healthy, and also facilitates better blood circulation. Many doctors and medical professionals have highlighted this over the years.

The eligibility to donate blood is quite straightforward – any hale and hearty person above the age of 18 years, with sufficient iron content in his or her body, can donate. However, blood donation is medically advised only once in three months.

Several advocacy groups, medical communities, corporates, as well as NGOs in India are encouraging and facilitating blood donations, all over the country. SocialStory brings to you a few examples of individuals running these.

Karthik Naralasetty

Karthik Naralasetty.

Image credit: Changemakers

When Karthik Naralasetty learned about the difficulties being faced by a thalassaemic girl to find blood donors in rural Karnataka, he gave up on the IT startup he was running successfully in Bengaluru, to get on the ground and streamline communication between donors and recipients.

In 2011, Karthik set up eight Facebook groups for the eight different blood groups, and invited his friends to join. After a few months, he decided to set up a single, unified platform for hassle-free interactions between donors and recipients.

This led to the foundation of Socialblood, an app that connects the two parties on a single platform. It has been seven years since, and Karthik has created an impact in the lives of over three lakh people across the globe.

Jyotindra Mithani

Jyotindra Mithani

Jyotindra Mithani became a regular blood donor after he heard a radio appeal for blood donation for the Indian Army in February 1977, following the Indo-Pakistan war.

As soon as he heard about the dearth of blood in the country, especially for soldiers in the army, he went to a blood camp to donate, and hasn’t looked back since.

Jyotindra, a middle-level manager at a stockbroking firm in Mumbai, has been donating blood every three months, for the last 42 years. He has walked into several hospitals across Mumbai, such as Nanavati in Vile Parle, and Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Girgaon, to donate blood, and has made it his life’s mission to continue doing so for as long as possible.

Today, the man is renowned for his immense contribution to the cause of blood donation in his locality. The serial blood donor still gets anonymous requests for donations.

Chethan M Gowda

Chetan M Gowda

Chethan M Gowda was only 14-years-old when his teacher died because of unavailability of blood on time. 

The reason for the unavailability of blood, Chethan discovered, was the lack of a proper network between donors and recipients. To make it easier for healthcare units and blood banks aid patients in emergency situations, he set up an NGO called Khoon in 2016, under the Jaanavi Social Welfare Foundation.

Over the last four years, Khoon has supported multiple hospitals and blood banks obtain blood – right from collecting, to testing and reporting the blood status. Based in Bengaluru, the 60-member team has organised 35 blood donation camps across Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, and Assam.

Khoon has around 87,000 voluntary donors registered across the country, and through them, the organisation has been able to make a difference in the lives of one lakh citizens. 

Kiran Verma

Kiran Verma

In a bid to spread the message that donating blood can save thousands of lives, 35-year-old Kiran Verma travelled 6,000 km across India. His aim has been to help people understand the importance of blood donation.

After his mother passed away due to a lack of blood following a cancer diagnosis, Kiran setup Simply Blood, an online platform to find donors, in her honour. To spread his message across the length and breadth of the country, he embarked on an arduous journey from Srinagar to Thiruvananthapuram.

The 35-year-old has travelled to cities in states as varied as Rajasthan, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, and Kerala, to get people to use the Simply Blood app.

Edited by Aparajita Saxena


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