BENGALURU: Not all superheroes wear capes or fly through the air. In fact, they can be found right here among us in our community—ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances and making lives better for others. Teenager Chetan fits the bill. Chetan, all of 16, set up Khoon Khas – a non-profit organisation which works towards providing blood donors when blood banks and all other sources are exhausted. Also, Khoon Khas is the first blood-donation related NGO to be working in the Northeast.
What inspired this young man to take up such a huge responsibility at this tender age? His favourite teacher’s death. “I saw my teacher die because of non-availability of blood. The entire incident changed me. That was when I decided to come up with Khoon Khas,” says Chetan, the founder, adding, “Red is not a colour of danger. It’s a colour of life.”
“Our country has abundant blood, but people still die of blood shortage. I want to change that,” says the first year Mechanical Engineering student from Bengaluru. “I want to do my Masters in Social Work and get involved in betterment of society,” Chetan says.
Chetan’s parents, though proud of their son’s achievements, want him to concentrate on his studies. “I hope one fine day they will understand me and my mission,” says Chetan and adds that his two sisters have been his biggest support system. “When they read about me and Khoon, they do feel proud of me. But that doesn’t last long. Study and score good marks is their motto,” laughs Chetan.
What began as a word-by-mouth campaign a year ago has now turned into a well-organised network. Khoon, which started small in September 2016 inside Chetan’s room, is now one of the seven organisations collaborating with Facebook to help locate blood donors and notify them of blood requests.
As of now, they are working in Bengaluru, Delhi and Guwahati.
Charu Agarwal, President of the Guwahati Chapter said, “It was launched during Momo Fest, one of the biggest festivals in the Northeast, this August. We did a street play on the day of launch. But the response was lukewarm. However, with campaigns and social media alerts, we have been able to cater to a good number of people. We mostly get requests for cancer patients. We are hopeful that we will be able to make a difference in peoples’ lives here.”
Chetan recalls one of the emergencies. “Once we got a call at 12.30 am for O negative blood for a two-year-old girl. She was from the US and was here for a surgery. O negative is a very rare blood and we had very few donors registered for this blood group. Luckily, one of the donors agreed. So, by 7 am the next day, we were able to arrange blood for the child. Every second matters in such cases.”
Chetan started the helpline 9538244183 in January this year and since then they have received thousands of phone calls from across India. “Through blood donation camps, awareness camps, we have been able to impact 50,000 lives,” says Chetan. They also run The BLOODy Citizen, a monthly magazine, through which they try to educate the masses about blood donation and latest discoveries, researches in blood donation.
How Khoon works?
As of now, 80 volunteers are working for the organisation across India. People who are willing to become voluntary blood donors can register with Khoon by providing necessary contact details and blood group on their website www.khoonkhas.org. Whenever there is a request for a particular blood group, the registered donors are contacted and if available, they donate.
Theme-based blood donation camps
All blood donation camps conducted by Khoon are theme-based. “I figured out that this is one of the ways to attract more people. Especially youth. When we have a music-theme based camp, we ensure there is a local music band performing to keep them entertained,” says Chetan. They also perform street plays before the camp. “People’s attention span is very less. So, we usually try to keep it not more than 4 minutes,” adds Chetan.