By: Ashiq Hussain
Srinagar: They are ordinary men with extraordinary spirit. They have dedicated their lives to the service of mankind, yet they remain unsung. For them, every drop of blood counts, and every life matters.
Welcome to the world of Kashmir’s blood donors. Local donors have set up social media groups to help people in need of blood transfusion.
From Facebook to WhatsApp, blood donors remain online 24×7 to meet any exigency. From blood to platelets, these volunteers have saved thousands of lives without any hullaballoo.
How do they operate
Sample this: `J&K Blood Donors’ was conceptualized by Rather Ishfaq, a healthcare worker, and Basant Rath, former IGP traffic in 2018. It is working virtually and has more than 40,000 followers on Facebook.
“We have a chain of WhatsApp groups in each district handled by 1 or 2 admins. We have around 1400 registered blood donors whom we can call at any time of the day or night. Around 100 donors are those who donate after every 3 months,” said Ishfaq, who heads J&K Blood Donors.
Ishfaq himself leads from the front. He has so far donated 19 units. “There are some myths associated with blood donation. But the fact is that the plasma part recovers within 24 hours. RBCs, WBCs, and Platelets take around 56 days to recover after donation. It purifies the body,” he said.
What motivates donors
Tayasir Hilal Bhat, 28, from Wanihama Hazratbal has donated AB+ve blood 20 times. Plus he has also donated 2.4 lakh platelets. “I have been donating blood for the last 6 years and platelets for the last 2 years. I have even donated in Ramadhan. There’s no side effect on my health,” he said.
In fact, Tayasir started blood donation after he saw a cancer patient struggling. “I got to know about J&K blood donors on Facebook. I joined them and started donating thereafter,” he said.
Umer Najar, 28, working in J&K police, has been donating blood for the last 8 years. “I have donated around 30 points of O -Ve blood. I have also donated blood platelets two to three times. I donate after every 3 months. I feel restless if I get a little late for donating. I mostly donate in GB Pant hospital as there are some newborn babies who need blood instantly,” Umer said.
`Help4All’ headed by Abbass Kashmiri has been working jointly with Covid Resources Kashmir and 313 Blood Donors. They have rendered pioneering service during the past Covid waves. “I have donated blood 22 times. I first donated at the age of 17,” he said.
Help4All has 500 registered blood donors, of whom many are girls. “We donate even the rarest of rare blood groups such as AB-Ve, A -Ve, and O -Ve,” Abbass said.
313 Blood Donors have around 1000 registered donors across J&K. “We donate blood and platelets to mainly Lal Ded Hospital, SMHS & SKIMS because there are a lot of patients who need it. We organize blood donation awareness camps and events. We are combinedly helping each other,” said Dawood, who heads 313 Blood donors.
Covid & blood donation
Covid Resources Kashmir is run by two friends, Saheem Ashraf Bhat Mateen Buchh. A cloud-based group, it is active on Facebook and WhatsApp.
“We provided provide oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, blood pressure monitor, oximeter, thermometer, etc. free of cost to people during the 2nd Covid wave. Now that the Covid cases have dropped, we are working combinedly with Help4all to provide blood, books for underprivileged children, deliver medicines, food, and many other things in emergency cases,” said Saheem.
There are hundreds of blood donors who are not associated with any group. Yet they donate clandestinely to save lives. “A doctor alone cannot save lives. We need to come forward, donate more and more,” said Aijaz Ahmad, a volunteer.