Even as the rest of India called near and dear ones to find out if they were safe after the recent Hyderabad blasts, others took to social networking websites and offered assistance by passing on helpline numbers for nearby hospitals and police stations. The creators of three separate Twitter handles even decided to help out by tweeting or
re-tweeting information on blood requirements in city hospitals, encouraging people to step out and help victims by donating blood.
“I started donating blood during my college days and kept doing so on a regular basis as I saw that many of my friends were not aware of its importance,” says Vijay Soni, who started @iCanSaveLife along with Swati Singh in 2010. “We share experiences of those who have donated blood and interact with members to clarify their queries and doubts about blood donation. We also share important information with our members and followers. Our motto is to spread awareness about it.”
Similarly, the main idea behind Blood Aid is to connect people who require blood, whether in an emergency or otherwise, with people who are willing to donate it. “Since the very beginning, we have never made an attempt to be in the spotlight or gain revenue from advertising. We have a testimonial section on our Facebook page, which has comments from donors who responded to our requests and patients who were saved. The hashtag #bloodaid has become a call for blood donations, not just in India, but also in Pakistan where people tag donation requests with #bloodaid,” says Rahul Anand, who founded the handle along with Anoop Sasidharan and Meeta Maheshwari.
BloodDonorsIn also focuses on matching blood donors with those in need, anywhere in India. “It's not about the number alone; what’s important is how committed the members are, in terms of helping those in need. There are some people in the group with a large number of followers, like commentator Harsha Bhogle. He’s been absolutely committed in not only re-tweeting blood requirements, but also requesting his followers to join the group, and that’s really helped a lot,” says the founder of @Blood DonorsIn, who is based in Mumbai but wishes to remain anonymous.
Numbers: As of today, 1,368 followers on Twitter, 20,200 likes on Facebook and 31,000 members on the Facebook group.
How it works: Gets requests from followers and volunteers in different cities. Confirms them and then shares them on the network. Many times they get a reply within hours that someone contacted the person and the blood requirement is fulfilled.
Most active during: Mumbai bomb blasts, floods in Orissa/Assam, bomb blasts in other cities, stampedes at religious places and many more incidents.
Expected soon: A website, and the founders are also thinking of launching an SMS service or mobile app through which they can reach people in a shorter time.
Numbers: About 3,050 followers currently. It mostly comprises people who joined after they donated blood for the first time or used the service in a crisis.
Most active during: People can use #bloodaid to post their blood donations in India, or access its database and contact donors. During incidents like the recent Hyderabad blasts, and the Mumbai blasts, there is a frenzy of requests and people respond with promptness and enthusiasm during crises.
How it works: Solicit blood requests using the #bloodaid hashtag. Try and confirm all requests through Twitter by tagging the volunteer who informs them about that request. Tagging the volunteer making him/her responsible for the authenticity of information.
Expected soon: To diversify BloodAid as a one-stop platform on social media websites. This will enhance its reach across various organisations, maintaining independent online databases of blood donors and blood banks.
Numbers: Around 1,000.
Helped out during: The handle, though active in terms emergencies and accidents, concentrates more on anonymous patients in need of blood at a city hospital or other locations.
How it works: Once a request is sent for blood donation, it is broadcast via the handle to its followers and gets prompt responses.
Expected soon: Continue its efforts to bridge the supply-demand gap.