Uyir Thuli: Brothers in arms to save lives
The doctors said they had run out of the blood type. Alamelu, devastated, ran from pillar to post trying to find blood.
PUDUCHERRY: Alamelu was in for a shock when doctors at JIPMER hospital revealed that her daughter, Vijaylakshmi, who was pregnant and was referred from the Villupuram government hospital since she required a caesarean section, was anaemic. Vijaylakshmi’s blood type was one of the rarest, and it contained no antigen - HH blood group, commonly known as the Bombay blood group.
The doctors said they had run out of the blood type. Alamelu, devastated, ran from pillar to post trying to find blood. A police constable Selvam, who was at the hospital to attend to the treatment of his relative, heard about Alamelu’s tribulations and promised help. He approached Uyir Thuli, a network of voluntary blood donors, and its founder, C Prabhu.
Wasting no time, Prabhu launched a drive seeking the rare blood group and found a donor, Santhosh from Thirubuvanai, who was willing to donate blood, after which Vijaylakshmi was taken for the C-section. She delivered a healthy baby boy, underwent a blood transfusion, and was later discharged.
This is not an isolated incident. C Prabhu (39) has emerged as a messiah of sorts, providing blood to people in need. Uyir Thuli, a network of blood donors and recipients, maintains a database of donors, follows a systematic approach to blood requests and establishes links to major government hospitals. In fact, Prabhu and his team of donors have donated even in the dead of night to save lives.
Little did Prabhu know that the blood donation initiative he took up in 2014 would eventually become the mission of his life. A school dropout, Prabhu began donating blood at the age of 18, when his friends told him that it makes people fairer. Every three to four months he used to voluntarily donate blood at Puducherry Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital and Post Graduate Institute. Seeing his interest in blood donation, the hospital issued him a blood donor card.
He continued to donate blood. His blood group, AB positive, is a rare type. “The satisfaction of seeing people recover has given me so much happiness,” said Prabhu. However, life changed for Prabhu when former MLA Dr MAS Subramanian approached him to help donate blood to a five-year-old cancer-afflicted child admitted at JIPMER. Prabhu did donate blood, but they could not save the child. Distraught over the loss of life, Prabhu then, back in February 2015, decided to start a WhatsApp group with friends, journalists and acquaintances. Soon enough, requests poured in from all corners. With over 100 members, Prabhu had to start another group. In three months, 30 such groups were created.
It was then he felt the need for an office. He approached Dr MAS Subramanian, who assisted him with computers and accessories, while former AINRC MLA NS Jayabal provided him with a mobile phone. The office space, known as the Uyir Thuli communication centre, was established in a rented building in Nellithope. It comprises 1,430 members.
Ever since Uyir Thuli has been conducting camps in association with government hospitals. Since 2017, the Uyir Thuli team has organised 57 emergency blood donation camps. When asked about the number of units of blood donated in these nine years, Prabhu said he never maintained any records. On average, they receive around 150 requests every month, but due to many limitations, they fulfil only about 50%.
“There is a need to spread awareness about voluntary blood donation. The Puducherry AIDS Control Society should make more efforts towards creating awareness as well as convincing companies, organizations, and others to donate blood,” said Prabhu.
(Requests for blood donation would be received on 8695566777 or 9894404632)
(Edited by Jacob B Jacob)