Bengaluru: “In August 2014, we could not find a common blood group for my maternal grandfather. We were in crisis as there were no donors who could give him blood despite him being a registered donor,” says Mr Kunal Saraff, who was so moved by the crisis that he felt an urgent need to start an NGO that would ensure that nobody is denied of something as essential as blood. Though the incident happened at a premier hospital in Kolkata, Mr Saraf knew that he needs to set up such centres across major metros, including Bengaluru, and create a proper database.
The NGO, The Saviours, has some 20 members or interns working across Bengaluru. It also has centres in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. Founded on October 21, 2014, the NGO has over 4,000 emergency donors registered in the city. The Saviours hold an awareness meeting every month. “We want to ensure that nobody dies for want of something that in abundance in everyone’s body. It is important to spread our activities to other cities," says Mr Saraff.
From running camps at all metros to organising talks and awareness sessions, the main purpose of the Saviours is to increase the number of emergency donors who can be reached out at critical times. Today, across the country, it has a team of over 300 people volunteering for the cause and a database of more than 20,000 emergency donors. It has also arranged over 500 donors during emergencies.
“We have started conducting blood camps and have already held 10 such camps. We have collected over 700 units of blood over the last nine months," he says. Next month, the team in the city is organising another awareness camp and collection drive.
But how does one manage such a large-scale operation? For this, the NGO has designed a virtual internship programmes for college students to join the movement. With the increasing number of participants, the Saviours have started various awareness activities on voluntary blood donation. “I realised that college students needed to be empowered in taking such issues forward. That is the reason I designed an internship programme where students intern with the team and learn the processes. After the initial training, they help people register with them," he explains.
Once the data of the donors is collected and accepted, the interns mail them to confirm their registration. After screening the data, it is forwarded to the requests team which handles emergency requests for blood and connects them to donors in their areas. “Once the donors agree, they are connected to the receivers for blood donation,” he explains.
"The purpose of our sessions is not only to make the public aware of scams, but also to make them understand issues before participating in any blood donation and collection drives. During emergencies, desperate families shell out large sums of money if the blood group of the patient is rare. We are trying to stop it through mass awareness,” Mr Saraf says.
The NGO sets up blood camps at various places after tying up with various blood banks and lets the youth to lead. “During our awareness activities, we promote a unique belief and philosophy that 'When you help others, the universe conspires to help you', and this encourages many to come forward and register themselves as donors,” he explains.
The youngster has written his life’s journey in the form of a book – “How an iPhone made me the youngest billionaire” – and is looking to make Saviours the largest platform for emergency blood donations in India. “We are on a mission to collect the Largest database of emergency blood donors in the country,” he sums up.