Sachin Tendulkar commemorates World Blood Donor Day
Sachin Tendulkar commemorated this year’s World Blood Donor Day - June 14, 2021, by donating blood himself along with his entire team.
With this gesture he sent a message to millions of people across the country about the critical need for voluntary blood donation. And he was more than happy to describe the experience in the interview with Harsha Bhogle. (You can watch the full interview on Twitter: https://bit.ly/3glbrAI)
Harsha has been a committed supporter of Blood Donors India from the time when his former colleague in Rediffusion, Balu Nayar, started the venture.
“It is incredible how Blood Donors India has grown”, comments Harsha. “India is one of the countries in the world where there is a critical shortage of blood and a poor understanding of the need for voluntary blood donation amongst the general public. Even during normal times, there are many myths and misconceptions in people, about donating blood. So, using a social media channel to network for blood donation is a win-win concept.”
India faces an annual shortage of 40 mn units of blood in normal times (Source: Lancet). Currently, the raging pandemic and lockdowns everywhere, together with the fear of Covid19 infection, have deterred even many regular volunteers from donating blood throughout 2020 and till the first half of 2021. Thus, India’s blood banks are running dry without healthy volunteers to keep them replenished. This has assumed the proportions of a public health crisis.
Voluntary and unpaid blood donation is a critical input which sustains blood banks the world over, as in India. This is what helps keep them stocked with safe blood and blood products. The World Health Organisation states: “Safe blood and blood products and their transfusion are a critical aspect of care and public health. They save millions of lives and improve the health and quality of life of many patients every day. The need for blood is universal, but access to blood for all those who need it, is not. Blood shortages are particularly acute in developing countries”.
For Balu Nayar, who started Blood Donors India in 2008, his start-up was the realisation of a dream. To make sure that safe blood was available to everyone, at the precise moment when it was needed. From a top-level corporate background, to start an online platform for aggregating volunteers for blood donation, was a leap of faith. But it was one which he has never regretted. For the ex-IIT Kharagpur and IIM Bangalore alumnus, it seemed to be just the giant leap to take for mankind, to save millions of lives.
Blood Donors India is the only organisation of its kind to exist on a backbone of social media which networks thousands of volunteers across the country. The members come from different castes, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. They log in and find out who needs blood, where it is needed, what type, what is the urgency… and thus, they network, collect blood, reach it to where it is needed… and save lives. A silent, selfless army of volunteers, who get no payment or rewards.
“The life we save is reward enough,” says one member of Blood Donors India.
"On our network (which is 1.2 million strong now), we face so many situations bordering death, but it's difficult to get hardened to these, especially when it's with the very young," says Balu Nayar, who can share many heart-wrenching stories from over the years.
For Sachin Tendulkar, his reward for donating blood today would be to see a regular stream of volunteers for blood donation from across the country’s spectrum of corporate offices, youth clubs, colleges and universities, sporting clubs, athletic associations, civil and administrative services – basically, from any and everyone who represents Young India and Millennial India.
“Just join the network on Twitter at @BloodDonorsIn and try to help fulfil the blood donation requests that you see there every day. We can all be Blood Brothers and Save Lives.”
The initiative received support from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India’s BARC4BETTER.