City techie eyes national helpline on blood donation

App to bridge gap

City techie eyes national helpline on blood donation

Sitting in his Bengaluru office, Utkarsh Kwatra is planning big for society. A national helpline for blood donation that he and his NGO team members plan to launch here on August 8 promises to do good to thousands of people.

An app for filling up the gap between patients who need blood and voluntary donors is also in the progress, Kwatra, an Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi graduate, told Deccan Herald.

Kwatra, who co-founded NGO Blood Connect with currently US-based friend Nitin Garg, has a data bank of volunteers from various IITs and undergraduate colleges in nine cities who turn up at blood banks in hospitals where the needy patient is admitted.

“We have 250 volunteers and are now planning expanding our network in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Agra and Indore,” Kwatra said, claiming that their team annually holds nearly 150 blood donation camps which yield about 100 units of blood each.

The non-profit organisation claims to have saved nearly 20,000 lives since its launch in 2010 while Kwatra and Garg were studying an IIT-Delhi and an emergency blood requirement in a relative’s family threw up the idea. At present, Blood Connect is very active in nine cities including Delhi, Kanpur, Varanasi, Kolkata, Jodhpur, Ropar, Chandigarh and Lucknow. “We motivate student volunteers and train them to be leaders so that they can further train others before they pass out from their educational institutions,” said Kwatra, admitting that the IIT and the engineering student community forms a chunk of their volunteers.

This is how the chain works: the NGO’s website takes requests for blood donation, a volunteer of the organisation speaks to the request maker to check the genuineness of the requirement, the volunteer sends out alerts through SMS or social media to the enlisted donors and links the donor and the patient for free blood donation.

“We keep track of a three-month gap between a donor’s two donations,” he said. Kwatra explained that his teams’ target is to have enough blood in all the cities so that there is no need for emergency donation.

“We know there is a lot to be done. We have the technological aptitude to do it but manpower limitations and the need to filter out professional donors and touts keeps us proceed slowly,” said Kwatra, adding that his team wants to hold many more free camps with hospitals and corporates.

The proposed national helpline would map the city from which the request is raised, identify volunteers available to answer the request and solve the shortage, he said, adding that the national helpline would be version-2 of the phone service mentioned on the Blood Connect website.

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