Published: 22nd September 2021
Blod Bros: This portal by Chennai students can connect patients with blood donors in five seconds
Varun Nair and Adithya Vikram developed Blod.in, a portal where users can enter their blood group and zip code to access a list of donors
Much like everyone during the second wave of the pandemic in the country, Varun Nair too noticed and realised the importance of medical resources — one of them being blood. With calls for donors permeating social media, Varun wanted to find a way to effectively connect patients to donors around them. In just 20 days time, with the help of his friend and co-founder Adithya Vikram, Varun launched Blod.in, a portal where patients can just enter their blood group and zip code to get access to a repository of eligible blood donors along with their contact details — all in just under five seconds.
Speaking about how he developed the portal, Varun says, "The internet is filled with phone numbers but it's so scattered that it can't be found easily. When I thought about this idea, I knew that I needed to contact a lot of people who would essentially want to donate blood. So, I coded a scraper that allowed me to get access to about 30,000 numbers in Chennai alone." With the help of these numbers, all Varun had to do was call a large number of people and verify their details. That's where his friends came in. "I contacted my friends, who, in turn, contacted their friends. In just a couple of days, we had over a hundred student volunteers working on this," says Varun, who just completed his final year of Biomedical Engineering from Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science and Technology.
Adithya Vikram (left) and Varun Nair
Varun says he wanted the portal to be simple, clutter-free and without any advertisements. "It had to be user-friendly and easy to use," says the 22-year-old. After launching the portal in July, Adithya, who is a Computer Science student at SSN College of Engineering, started working on automated bots. "The bots are now partially operational and it's helping with donor verification. Details like who has donated blood recently, who has to be taken off the portal and when they can be added back have now been automated," explains Varun.
But that's not where Varun and Adithya are stopping. "We understand that the current model that the portal has leaves the donors' contact details quite vulnerable. So, we are working on modifying the bots to ensure that the data is protected in some form. The update should be ready within the next month," says Varun. He and his friends have been volunteering to get the portal up and running but they need funds to build the technology that will make the data more secure.
So, what are they doing about it? Recently, they organised a futsal tournament, the largest of its kind in South India. "While we did get some funds from the tournament, I believe it's still not enough. To sustain this kind of technology, a lot of funding is required," says Varun. "If we students could manage to get these numbers from social media so easily, how easy would it be for large corporations to do the same? They'll definitely take less time," he concludes.