Blood-donor deluge swamps couple

The Nagpur couple's SMS-based service putting people needing blood in touch with donors has got thicker, reports Sarita Kaushik.
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Updated on Apr 04, 2008 10:46 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySarita Kaushik, Nagpur

‘The Bloodline’ — a Nagpur couple’s unique SMS-based service putting people needing blood in touch with donors in their city — has got thicker. A dramatic deluge of public interest on Thursday saw the number of new donors on the service’s web site rocket up by 3,400 per cent over normal days.

Hindustan Times frontpaged the story of Khushroo and Fermin Pocha, and their web site, in its Thursday edition. The Pochas run a completely free service which lets you send an SMS to a particular number giving your name, your city, and the blood group you need, and you get, within seconds, a reply SMS with the name and mobile phone number of an appropriate donor.

In our report, we called the Pochas’ uniquely humanitarian SMS helpline ‘The Bloodline’.

The SMS service draws on a large Internet database of donors that the Pochas maintain. Till Thursday, the database had some 45,000 donors in 300 Indian towns and cities.

On Thursday, 350 fresh donors had signed up, 35 times the average 10 that’ve been signing up since the service was started.

Delhi — where the shortage of blood is chronic — has been the city most receptive to the idea. On Wednesday evening, when our report on the Pochas was being filed, the site had 1,708 donors.

On Thursday, 12 hours after the report appeared in print, the number had jumped to 1,781.

Over the same period, the number of donors in Mumbai increased from 3,033 to 3,047; in Gurgaon, it went up to 345 from 333; and in Noida, it reached 364 from 359.

“The number of new registrations kept increasing every few minutes. It was a beautiful demonstration of how a social service network builds up.

The Hindustan Times report has galvanised voluntary social consciousness into action,” a delighted Khushroo said.

“The response has been better than what I got during the Gujarat earthquake and Mumbai bomb blasts, when a lot of blood was needed. It shows we are becoming a more sensitive and compassionate society.”

People who read the story have been calling up and emailing Khushroo and Fermin. A young girl from Ludhiana has written to say she wants to register but does not know her blood group. A Delhi man has written a couplet on the Pochas’ remarkable endeavour. A local FM channel has contacted them for bites. A man from Karachi has emailed after reading the story on the site.

And someone has deposited Rs 1,000 in Khushroo’s bank account as his humble contribution to the cause. But Khushroo’s favourite moment of the day came when a major private equity firm that invests in social entrepreneurship causes, called him to discuss a tie-up. Khushroo turned them down - “my work is not for money, it is not a revenue model,” he said.

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