Band of brothers interconnected by blood

Gobi pointed out that while people are ready to receive blood during times of emergency, the same are not willing to donate, which is concerning.
Volunteers from Annai Karangal Nala Sangam donating blood in Coimbatore
Volunteers from Annai Karangal Nala Sangam donating blood in Coimbatore(Photo | | S Senbagapandiyan)

COIMBATORE: For L Udhiram Gobi, it all started on an ordinary day. At the Ganga Hospital, the young carpenter saw a mother wandering the corridors, inquiring about the blood groups of patients and by-standers. She was in dire need of six units of B-negative blood, a rare group. She was determined, holding on to her hopes and the life of her ailing daughter. But time was running out. The 26-year-old Gobi quickly got into the act, called everyone on his contact list to find out their blood groups. By the end of the day, there were six units of blood. The little girl thanked Gobi for saving her life.

The young man realised the power of network and the dearth of blood donors around him. Today, Gobi has a support system spread across the Coimbatore district through “Annai Karangal Nala Sangam” which he founded with his friends – Suresh, Yuvaraj, and Prakash. With over 200 volunteers and 8,000 donors spread across the district, his community has people who have donated blood for over 70 times. He himself has donated his rare AB+ blood almost 37 times so far and oversees nearly 40 donations per day. He has been a lifeline for people across the country.

Travel has been a challenge from the outset, especially during the pandemic when it was necessary to travel to neighbouring states to help those in critical conditions. “I have witnessed patients admitted to huge private hospitals with blood banks that struggled to find donors. What chance do government hospitals and small healthcare facilities have?” asks Gobi.

“Many well-wishers support us. The district collector and the Propel company donated a car for us a few months ago. Geetha Anandhan of Sriman Packers, Annadurai of Kennedy Agency and advocate Rahman have been assisting us in reaching the hospital or location for blood donation.”

The key to building a community of blood donors is awareness, adds Gobi. He and his team have been raising awareness among students and the public about blood donation. Gobi pointed out that while people are ready to receive blood during times of emergency, the same are not willing to donate, which is concerning.

“Donating blood is a healthy habit and everyone must come forward to donate their blood. One can get to know their haemoglobin levels free of cost when they come forward to donate blood. We can donate blood once every 3 months. The human body contains about 5.5 litres of blood, one unit of blood (350 ml) donated to a patient in critical condition will be regenerated in our body within 24 hours. However, the patient who receives that small portion will get to live for several years,” explained Gobi.

In the peak summer season, Gobi and his team organised a free buttermilk stall in the city. While quenching the thirst of the people, he built a database by collecting their blood groups and contact information. “This will help in times of emergency, especially when rare blood groups are needed,” he adds.

Circling back to the little girl who was the muse behind Gobi’s calling in life, she has grown up to become a professor at a reputed college today. She herself has a community of 500 volunteers ready to travel and donate blood to those in need. The girl who once inspired Gobi to dedicate his life to saving lives has herself taken a leaf out of his book and started an initiative of her own. Gobi believes that this is the power of selflessness. It makes human beings realise how fickle their existence is and how much we waste in proving otherwise.

In the coming years, he plans to raise awareness on blood donation and widen his community’s reach. From the heart of Ganga Hospital to the veins of Coimbatore’s streets, his unwavering resolve has been the lifeline for many.

To volunteer for blood donation, contact Udhiram Gobi at +919994148105.

(Edited by Meghna Murali)

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