THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: When Shajudeen J S was 17 years old, he donated blood for the first time. He was in college, and the faculty announced a blood test to determine groups. “The professor asked how many of us are willing to donate blood and I promptly lifted my hand. That same night, at around 12, the professor came to my home because his son needed blood. That was my first,” he recalls. The next day when Shajudeen went to college, there was a commotion. The professor’s son had died.
“I still can’t fathom the feeling that swept over me. I felt guilty. I went home and couldn’t even go to see the kid’s body,” he recalls. However, the incident only inspired Shajudeen to save more lives. He continued donating blood and in no time, had donated blood to six patients who survived. “Though the first incident hit me pretty hard, the fact that the others lived was a huge relief. It was reassuring to be able to change someone’s life,” he adds.
Shajudeen eventually became instrumental in the functioning of a voluntary blood donor group that he started through a recreation club for which he served as the secretary. “We mobilised many volunteers and encouraged them to donate blood,” he says. At 21, he joined Terumo Penpol, an organisation that is diligently involved in promoting voluntary blood donation.
Touching hundred lives
Three decades later, Shajudeen has donated blood 100 times, which is no ordinary feat. The 52-year-old is on cloud nine for having hit a century in blood donation, his hundredth blood donation was in April 2021.
The pandemic or lockdown didn’t dampen his spirit and mission to donate blood. Having tested positive for Covid, he was speaking on the phone to TNIE from the hospital on Monday. Even then, his pride and conviction is quite audible as he spoke of blood donation. “Blood is the life-saving elixir that cannot be manufactured. There is a substitute for everything, but not for blood. It can only be shared between people,” he says.
Man with Iron will
For this unsung hero, all that matters is being able to help out another soul. “Knowing that I have been able to save lives is a reward in itself for me. It is a feeling that cannot be explained,” he says. Shajudeen has never taken a break from blood donation, except when he was bedridden after an operation in 2010.“I want to continue donating blood. As I get older, maybe I will reduce the number of times I donate blood. But I will never stop. And when I look back, I feel like I have done something for the world, that I touched lives,” he says.