Fully aware that a blood transfusion can make the difference between life and death, 83-year-old Kanta Saroop Krishen remains steadfastly committed to her goal of saving precious lives.
Founder and now president of the UT Blood Bank Society, she has been actively involved in motivation and recruitment of voluntary donors for the past four decades and is the architect of the voluntary blood donation movement in the region.
During all these years there have been several hurdles, including lack of government funding and sponsors, but these have not weakened the octogenarian crusader’s resolve and the society has come a long way since it was set up in 1964.
“We wanted to prevent donated blood from being sold for profit and make donations entirely voluntary. It should be a gift from the healthy to the sick,” she says.
Krishen began volunteering at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, the first institution in the country to begin voluntary blood donation services, before the Rotary and Blood Bank Society Resource Centre was inaugurated in 2004.
“Blood donation serves a crucial need — there’s no substitute for blood, it can’t be manufactured and if sick people don’t get it they’ll die. Hospitals in Chandigarh still face an acute blood shortage, hence the game isn’t over for me and I’ll continue to do as much as I can till the day I’m alive,” says Krishen, who often works seven days a week. “It gives me a sense of satisfaction that is more than I could ever get by attending kitty parties or playing cards.”
A recipient of the Padma Shri and the Mother Teresa awards, Krishen keeps busy by holding lectures at colleges, organising blood donation camps in various institutions and arranging activities to get people involved in the cause.
“I feel good when I look back and see how my own family has joined the cause over the years. My daughter assists me with everything and visits the centre even more regularly than I do. My son-in-law has donated bloodover 120 times and I’ll never forget my elder grandson’s decision to donate blood on his 18th birthday,” she adds.
Krishen’s society is also assisting other states to build their own blood banks along the same lines.
Such is her undivided commitment to her work that she does not allow any physical impediment or illness to stand in the way of her rigorous schedule. Even when she was unable to visit the centre last month due to a backache she continued to hold meetings at her home and stayed connected with developments with her daughter, who is the secretary at the centre, sending her regular updates.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way, whether you’re 20 or 80!” she says with a smile.