Saving lives

Md Amjad Hossain writes about a platform that is trying to break the taboo linked with blood donation in the country

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Almost every day we see people posting status on Facebook looking for blood from donors.

The person can be anyone, maybe a close friend, friend of friends or just a Facebook friend. If the one searching for blood is our relative or a close one, we try to help them out. If not, we probably just forget about these posts. And this is the reality.

Statistics show that there is a demand for nine lakh bags of blood for patients every year, but the sad news is that we cannot provide it because of our unwillingness or misconception about donating blood.

Although there is no exact solution to this problem, there are some volunteers who have been working throughout the country for a long period of time to find one. Some of them are encouraging people with counseling and others are coming up with mobile apps to gather donors to save lives.

However, to solve the problem permanently in our country, a group of young people came up with a volunteering service, donatebloodbd.com, an initiative that operates 24/7. One can find blood easily through the platform.

Campaign

The initiative, with the slogan ‘Save people and be saved’ was taken to serve people, says Subrata Deb, founder of DonateBloodBd.com. Subrata had planned to create a platform since July 2012 and finally his dream came true in January 2013.

Anyone seeking blood for medical purposes will be benefitted through three types of services from the platform, says Subrata. The first one is their web site (donatebloodbd.com), where one can search for a blood donor and contact them personally as donors’ information is provided on the site. The site has already been visited by more than 1.5 crore people in the past four and a half years.

The second service is ‘Roktodaner Oppekhay Bangladesh’, a Facebook group of 1.55 lakh members, where donors are repeatedly posting their blood group and phone numbers. Anyone needing blood can easily contact them. The last one is their call centre (01756963308, 01748306027) which comes handy in cases of emergencies.

The platform receives 30-35 inquiries on an average every day. Usually 10-12 people get the required help. Starting from April 2016, 2,453 people received blood from donors only through the call centre service. The total number of people getting help through the web and Facebook is many times higher.

While talking to New Age Xtra, Nazrul Islam and Afsana Naznin, operators of the call centre, informed that they receive numerous phone calls daily. But despite their utmost efforts they cannot serve them all. The call centre remains open from Sunday to Thursday starting at 8.00am till 12.00pm. The service is open from 12:00pm to 8:00pm on Saturdays and on Friday the service stays closed.

When asked about future plans, Subrata says, ‘Our plan is to see that one day this kind of services will no longer be required. We want to see people taking this seriously and donating blood happily. No one should die in need of blood.’

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Talking about positive and negative experiences during the journey, he says, ‘Some people have misconception about blood donation, which is troublesome. They are not aware of the fact that giving blood actually increases their blood cells, and in the process of donating blood, they can have five types of medical tests which are totally free of cost.’

‘Apart from that, I have had many helping hands along the way and it motivated me a lot. My parents are playing the best supporting role in this initiation and they never let me look back,’ he adds.

Subrata also shared a unique experience. Touhid, a young boy from Chittagong, who planned to commit suicide after a breakup, wished to donate a bag of blood and Subrata gave him an opportunity. He donated blood for a patient in Chittagong, as the relatives of the patient hugged him and appreciated his help, he realised if he dies nothing good can come out of it but if he stays alive he can save more lives in this manner. Since then, he has been donating blood regularly.