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Good Samaritans on a mission to save lives, dispel myths about blood donation

A research scholar in Allahabad has formed WhatsApp group ‘Youth for Blood Donation’ which has 125 donors who are now motivating people to join their campaign

lucknow Updated: Jun 14, 2017 18:01 IST
K Sandeep Kumar
K Sandeep Kumar
Hindustan Times, Allahabad
Blood donation,WhatsApp group,Allahabad
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, India faces shortage of blood to the tune of 3 million units annually.((HT photo for representation))

A total of 125 blood donors in Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad are always ready help the needy on the beep of their mobile phones, thanks to a WhatsApp group ‘Youth for Blood Donation’.

The group members are not only saving lives but are also motivating others to join the mission by dispelling fear and misconceptions about blood donation.

The group was created two months ago by Rajiv Mishra, 33, a researcher at the Nehru Gram Bharti University, Allahabad. On an average, one new volunteer is added to the group every day and Rajiv aims at having 200 members by August 2017.

Facts & figures
  • As an adult, a healthy adult has 4.5 to 5.5 litres of blood in the body. When one gives a unit (350 ml) of blood, the body replenishes the entire amount lost. The volume of fluid adjusts within a few hours of donation. The red blood cells get replaced within a few weeks.
  • Blood donation criteria include good health, age between 18 and 60 years and a minimum weight of 45 kgs.
  • Most donors do not experience side effects. In a survey of 5,000 donors, only 1 per cent experienced a minor reaction — usually irritation on the skin due to improper needle insertion.
  • A very small number of people feel weakness right after donation for some time. Weakness can be avoided by coming to the donation centre with a full stomach and a good night’s rest.
  • The entire donation process only takes about 10 minutes and can be repeated every 12 weeks.

Rajiv’s zeal for the mission stems from a personal tragedy and the spirit of selflessness inculcated in him by his father, retired army captain Baleshwar Mishra. Rajiv, a resident of Trivenipuram in Jhunsi, has donated blood 39 times.

“I lost my elder brother Ashok in 2002, who was just 25 then. We could not arrange enough blood for an emergency operation after his appendix burst. I was 22 at that time. My brother’s death left me in shock. By the time I turned 25, I had read widely on the subject and knew the importance of blood donation and the shortage being faced in the country,” Rajiv, a post-graduate in medieval history from Allahabad University, said.

“I donated blood for the first time in 2005 and have been doing so till date,” he added.

“I decided to create a WhatsApp group when a friend of mine suddenly required blood for his sister’s operation in the middle of the night. Local blood banks did not have her blood group. The struggle we underwent that night made me step forward from an individual blood donor to one having friends who are ready to roll up their sleeves to donate blood even for strangers,” said Rajiv.

“A person can donate blood 3-4 times in a year. Blood donation is the biggest gift one can give the society. A unit of whole blood actually saves at least three lives once its primary components – red blood cells, plasma and platelets are separated,” he said.

Read more: Donating one unit of blood can save three lives. Here’s how

Rajiv now plans to add volunteers from other parts of the state to the WhatsApp group. “We are getting requests from young donors from other cities. We plan to create a similar network in other cities as well,” said Gyan Prakash, 32, a high court lawyer and a member of the group who has made five donations till date.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, India faces shortage of blood to the tune of 3 million units annually. Only nine million units are collected in a year against the requirement of 12 million units, reflecting a 25 per cent deficit. Things get worse during the summer season when the shortfall hits as high as 50 per cent. This shortage can be easily eliminated if only an additional 2% of India’s youth donated blood, just once in a year.

First Published: Jun 14, 2017 18:01 IST