Published: 07th October 2020
How Hyderabad's Blood Warriors managed to pull off a blood drive during the pandemic
Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder, wherein, patients have less oxygen-carrying protein. About 10,000 babies are born with it in India and most patients require frequent blood transfusions
Imagine not being able to donate blood because you are not eligible and not being able to enlist help either because you are smack-dab in the middle of one of the most stringent lockdowns. The anguish that was born out of this helpless situation led to two youngsters — Sandeep Kavety and Krishna Vamshi Rajalingu — starting Blood Warriors, an organisation to ensure that children with thalassemia have access to blood as and when a transfusion is required. The six-month-old organisation held its first donation drive from October 2 to 4. It was held at the Aarohi Blood Bank in Banjara Hills and the Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Society in Rajendra Nagar, their long-time partners and they were associated with Aasya Foundation too. "We only slotted 20 donors per day so that there is no crowding and the plan is that the bank will call the donors 15 days after to ensure that they haven't tested positive for COVID," notes Sandeep. In this way, over 54 donors donated blood.
Krishna and Sandeep | (Pic: Blood Warriors)
But what really fascinated us about Blood Warriors was their Blood Bridge concept. So, Blood Bridge is not a new concept, it is a technique employed by many organisations like theirs, where one child inflicted with thalassemia is connected to six to ten donors who keep donating their blood on a rotational basis. "Before we launched Blood Warriors, we conducted a tiny research to understand why people are apprehensive to donate blood. The conclusion we came to was that there is no transparency, in the sense that donors do not know where the blood is going. With Blood Bridge, the donors know exactly where it is going and this increases their engagement. Moreover, we create a WhatsApp group with parents of the child and ten donors who keep in touch and eventually, they become a support system for the family. One volunteer will supervise one bridge," says the 29-year-old, who has been working in the social sector for the last eight years.
Sandeep was City Team Lead for Make A Difference, a non-profit that works for children in orphanages and shelter homes
Blood Warriors have successfully created this bridge for 11 children and hope to create 200, once they have enough volunteers. "This is important because parents of these children don't usually come from economically-sound backgrounds and having a support system plays a crucial role," points out the youngster who pursued his Distance MBA from Vaagdevi College of Engineering, Warangal.
From the blood donation drive | (Pic: Blood warriors)
Blood Warriors has a separate research team that tracks policies with regards to thalassemia across the country. "It takes about Rs 15 to 20 lakh to treat this ailment and about four per cent are carriers of this condition. It is good that those with this blood disorder have been recognised as persons with disabilities. Just like we eradicated polio, if we campaign hard enough, I believe we can get rid of thalassemia too," says a hopeful Sandeep.
For more on them, check out facebook.com/BloodWarriors