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App helps meet blood shortage in 100 cities

LocalCircles, a website and an app, connects people in need of blood to the nearest registered donor

india Updated: Aug 04, 2016 19:49 IST

Patients in need of blood and blood components such as platelets across 100 cities in India will now be able to get in touch with the nearest donor on the click of a mouse. LocalCircles, a citizen engagement website and app, on Thursday created blood donation circles in 100 cities, where a person who wishes to donate blood can register and people in need can search for a donor in their area.

Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Allahabad and Lucknow are among the 100 cities that will benefit from the blood donation circles.

“We are trying to use the power of social media for a cause. There is a massive shortage of blood in India, especially in tier two cities as organisations that organise blood donation camps are not very active and blood banks are few and far between,” said Yatish Rajawat, chief strategy officer at LocalCircles.

A person just has to visit http://www.localcircles.com or download the android/iOS app and register in the blood donation circle of a particular city. The membership get approved in a few hours, after which people might respond to requests for blood donation or post a need request.

A circle of 1,20,000 donors was created by the organisation last year in Delhi during the dengue crisis, which affected almost 16,000 people and killed 60.

“There was an over-whelming response from Delhiites last year, especially for platelets, which is needed for transfusion in serious dengue patients. This year, we thought of expanding the circle to include 100 other cities as dengue is on the rise,” said Rajawat. Throughout India, more than 15,000 people have had dengue fever and 26 people have succumbed to date.

Experts, however, say that these circles can come in handy only in limited cases. “A person who requires just one unit of blood can use such apps, but, if the person needs four or five units it gets difficult to coordinate with so many donors. Hence, there is a need for local blood banks which can meet the blood requirements of the population,” said Dr Vanashree Singh, director of the blood bank, Indian Red Cross Society.

As per the norms of the World Health Organisation, India needs approximately 1.3 crore units of blood and a little more than 1 crore is collected. “The problem is that of distribution. For example, based on the population ratio, Delhi should need only about 2 lakh units of blood, but even after collecting 6 lakh units there is a shortage. This is because Delhi is a referral centre,” said Dr Singh.

The shortage of the few lakh units of blood in India can easily be met if the blood components are separated. “One unit of whole blood can help three patients if it is split into its component – platelet, plasma and red blood cells. Whole blood must not be prescribed for patients where only one component is sufficient,” she said.

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