The will to donate blood runs deep in this Virudhunagar family’s veins

An entrepreneur who manufactures benzoin and sells country drugs, Prabhakaran’s blood donation journey began at the age of 23.
VPS Prabhakaran, his wife P Malarvizhi, and their children donate blood at least twice a year and spread awareness on the same within their family and beyond.
VPS Prabhakaran, his wife P Malarvizhi, and their children donate blood at least twice a year and spread awareness on the same within their family and beyond. (Photo | Express)

VIRUDHUNAGAR: It is a unique family tradition, by all means. The urge to donate blood runs deep in the veins of the Prabhakaran family. Since his childhood days, P Ganesh (43) from Virudhunagar vividly recalls how “blood donation” has been a constant refrain in his household.

For his father, VPS Prabhakaran, it is like a life mission. The 63-year-old never missed an opportunity to spread awareness, be it to his relatives at family functions or the customers who visit his shop.

An entrepreneur who manufactures benzoin and sells country drugs, Prabhakaran’s blood donation journey began at the age of 23. For over four decades now, he has donated blood a whopping 184 times. He recollects his first donation, spurred by a sign at a government hospital in Chennai that urged people to donate: it read “Ratha Dhanam Seiveer”. “In those days, awareness about blood donation was minimal,” he says.

“Interacting with doctors made me realise the critical need for blood donors. During that phase, one of my relatives had also been selflessly donating blood,” he says.

Initially, he was unaware of the time gap that had to be followed and was donating blood at irregular intervals. Another hiccup was the lack of blood banks in the district. “For almost 15 years till the district came up with blood banks, I donated at hospitals in other cities where I go for business trips,” Prabhakaran adds.

His father’s dedication soon inspired Ganesh, who started donating blood at the age of 18. “On several occasions since my college days, I’ve told my friends about the need for blood donation and have taken many of them along with me while visiting blood banks,” says Ganesh. Currently, he works as a manager at a star hotel in Mysuru and has donated blood nearly 60 times.

VPS Prabhakaran and his wife P Malarvizhi.
VPS Prabhakaran and his wife P Malarvizhi.

By the early 2000s, Prabhakaran’s wife, P Malarvizhi (62), a homemaker, would also take up the family tradition. “I was initially approached to donate blood for my mother-in-law for her treatment purposes and eventually continued doing it. I usually donate blood twice a year, including the death anniversary of my mother-in-law.” Since then, she has donated blood 37 times.

Malarvizhi speaks openly about overcoming societal stereotypes and myths that discourage women from donating blood. “Seeing my husband donate without fear made it easier for me,” she says. “I haven’t experienced any health issues from donating blood all these years.”

Their daughter, G Bharathi (38), and her husband J Ganesh Kumar, have also got on board and donated blood several times. Prabhakaran’s tireless efforts have earned him numerous awards, and he takes pride in knowing he has inspired others to donate blood. “Many people who attended the award ceremonies told me that I inspired them to donate blood,” Prabhakaran shares. “It feels great to know I’ve made a difference.”

As Prabhakaran approaches the upper age limit for blood donation, he remains committed to the cause and continues to educate others about its importance. His 12-year-old grandson, Prathamesh, is keen to follow his footsteps. “Prathamesh says he’ll start donating blood once he’s eligible,” says Ganesh proudly.

(Edited by Mary Catherene)

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