Blood for transfusion, a few clicks away
Stuck for a bottle of blood? Or do you feel like donating the precious fluid? Either way, your solution is just a few clicks away.
Nagpur-based Khushroo Poacha, 38, co-founded www.indianblooddonors.com, a simple yet amazingly useful venture in 2000. He works for Central Railway as a computer supervisor and his wife Fermin is part of the venture too.
If you're located in Kolkata and badly need blood, you can probably find someone who is willing to donate your group - pro bono - through this network. Or you can register as a blood donor yourself.
The portal is an SMS-and email-based alert system for voluntary blood donors. It alerts registered blood donors in "real time" whenever there's an emergency. Crossing cities and states in India, it ensures that donors donate at the blood bank of their choice, which is closest to their place of work or residence.
"We lost our child," Poacha says, explaining this was one reason why they put their energies into this venture.
"Our site is doing well now. We help about 25 patients every day," Poacha told IANS. "We have over 32,000 donors listed on our site."
India needs nearly seven million units of blood per year.
Most of those seeking help belong to the category of cancer patients or bypass surgery patients. And children suffering from Sickle cell and thalassemia who need frequent blood transfusions.
The site was started in March 2000 after he and Fermin ran into a poor welder who died because he could not find sufficient blood.
"This got me thinking. That is what must be happening to people who are poor," said Poacha.
At that time, the dot.com boom was nearing its peak. "I got the idea of using the power of the Internet to save lives," Poacha explained.
They run the site from their own resources and some donations. Nearly 30 new donors are registered each day. He has a volunteer - Ramesh Sannareddy - helping with the revamped site.
Why blood? "I have only thought about it from a human angle. I am a very soft person at heart. I can't see suffering. For me, it's just about helping people."
He believes IT can play a major role in eye-donation too.
"People would like to donate their eyes, but they don't know how to go about it. I currently have my hands full, though I would like to do that too some day."
The site became popular after the Gujarat earthquake. Blood donors from Pune donated blood for patients admitted at the army-run Armed Forces Medical College in Pune.
Said Poacha: "I got a call from a man from Dubai, whose mother needed blood in Goa. Cancer and bypass surgery patients account for 80 per cent of blood requirement."
Ethel Pereira, an Indian Catholic nun teaching computing to children in Italy, recently sent out an appeal about indianblooddonors.com via the Internet: "Please pass this on to everybody you know. We never know when an emergency will knock our life. It's about saving a life."
Poacha has a long-term vision.
"If big portals like Rediff, Yahoo! or MSN offer their support - just with a small link saying 'be a blood donor' - then this can solve the problem of blood shortage in India or the world."