KOCHI: A long time ago, Paul MJ from Cherthala had an epiphany. He realised that donating his rare O-ve blood can make a huge difference to someone’s life. This is how Paul started donating blood and ever since there has been no going back.
To date, this sexagenarian has saved 79 lives from different parts of the state by donating blood. “I used to donate blood every three months till the age of 60. Though I am not suffering from any comorbidities, people above that age are discouraged from donating by doctors,” said Paul. Still, he does his bit to help those in need.
Besides giving awareness on the importance of donating blood, Paul has formed a WhatsApp group called Negative which has members with rare blood types. Paul and his team help people get donours in time.
The turning point
Almost 30 years ago, Paul was an alcoholic. “My addiction even affected my family. My wife, Jonamma, left home with my three-year-old daughter once,” he says. The turning point of his life, however, happened when he was least expecting it.
“I was working as a driver in Alappuzha. One day, I was driving a vehicle with almost 20 pilgrims headed to Sabarimala, and I was intoxicated. The vehicle crashed and though all the passengers were safe, I lost my job. That was the day I quit drinking and decided to start a new life,” he says.
Soon, Paul started working as a driver for a fish distributor. “One of my co-workers was looking for a blood donor for her O-negative grandmother’s operation. I stepped up, the operation was successful and the happiness of that family gave me a lot of satisfaction. I decided to be a donor since then,” he remembers.
Paul reconciled with his family and started looking for better jobs, landing one in KSEB after a brief stint as a KSRTC driver. Paul, who retired from KSEB in 2015, has currently dedicated his life to blood donation and awareness.
For his noble services, Paul has been awarded the best blood donor in the Alappuzha district and was also honoured by the state government as one of the seven best blood donors in the state. Paul believes that donating blood also helps one stay healthy.
“I came across a one-day-old infant who required 100ml of blood for an immediate operation. I donated blood and she survived. She is 17 now and has never failed to invite me for her birthday,” beams Paul.