The popular notion about social media is that they are more or less virtual versions of former chat rooms where people do little else apart from indulging in idle babbling. However, for a bunch of young minds with a sense of humanity and benevolence, it is far more than that.
BloodAid, a three-year-old non-profit organisation, has been using the social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, to connect people in need of blood with donors living in their cities. The nationwide network provides a platform for voluntary blood donors where they can register and be searchable for those who in need of blood.
“Tweets have been flooding in our pages spreading information about the rain-ravaged Uttarakhand ever since the calamity happened. The six emergency helplines opened by the government often turn out to be nothing more than a long beep with busy networks and out-of-order phone lines. We are working in association with the other NGOs in not just distributing blood, but providing an active platform to spread the information also,” said Anoop, a co-founder of BloodAid.
Launched on June 14, 2010, the organisation strives to reduce the number of deaths attributed to the paucity of blood across the country ever since. The online portal, with the aid of social media, connects patients with local donors according to their blood type and location. Meeta Maheshwari, a doctor in Delhi; Anoop S, an entrepreneur from Kerala; Prashant P; and Rahul are the co-founders of this initiative. Those who are willing to donate blood can register in their website. A database of donors is also made and updated.
BloodAid solicits blood requests and broadcasts this request across the Internet, especially on social media platforms using the #BloodAid hash tag after confirming the veracity of the blood request. These posts get retweeted and shared, resulting in even complete strangers coming to offer blood and save lives.
A testimonial page is also present in Facebook, which is filled by getting responses from donors who responded to the requests and patients who were saved.
“Last month, owing to the onset of the monsoon and sudden rise of dengue cases in city, the blood bank at Govt Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, was running short on blood stock. When we got to know of this, we launched a campaign, with which we could bring the news to donors in the city and facilitate donors to donate blood,” said Anoop.
Attempts to make an offline presence are also being made by initiating tie-ups with doctors, hospitals and blood banks to ensure that they aid the technologically-challenged people to post requests.
Plans are on to create an online registry of patients suffering from diseases like cancers and cancer survivors also.
Those who are willing to donate blood or volunteer can register on the website www.bloodaid.com. Information about latest donation requests can be found through the #BloodAid hash tag on twitter.
They can also be found in Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bloodaid1 and in Twitter at https://twitter.com/BloodAid.