A few months ago in an ordinary living room, Khushroo Poacha shared how he was moved to do something small to try and save lives across India. Through personal experiences, he learned how difficult it was for most people in India to get blood for performing surgical procedures. Hospitals and bloodbanks were chronically short on blood. The most reliable method was to actually bring a person with the needed blood type to a bloodbank and take it then and there. Absent of that just-in-time donation, people were out of luck. Khushroo shared how many in India die every year because they simply could not find a donor in time.
An ordinary man who works for the Indian Railways, Khurshroo was determined to do something about this. So he started Indianblooddonors.com, a website that simply connects people with blood donors in their area. Donors register on the website, and when someone needs blood they simply query the online directory (via web or SMS) to get a phone number for a local donor matching the desired blood type. The person then gets in touch with that donor to meet and collect blood. With that simple tool to collect donor information and a way to query it, thousands of lives have been saved. When he started the website, hosting services in India were extremely expensive and he nearly spent his entire savings keeping the website alive. But over time others helped him use more cost-effective means. At this point, through painstaking work, IBD’s entire service works with less than Rs.200/mo. Software development, user support, and outreach has come all through volunteers. And for that small amount, thousands of lives have been saved.
For Khushroo, this project is purely a labor of love. As he humbly explains in the video, IBD does not have a revenue model, nor does he wish to monetize the service. His business plan is simply faith in the generosity of people willing to provide the resources whenever they are required. Very organically, he has attracted national press for IBD and there are currently over 50,000 registered donors.
Inspired by Khurshroo’s humility and genuineness, Awaaz.De offered to help. We saw that while SMS provides a way for people to query for blood over their mobile, it wasn’t the most convenient method due to language, difficulty typing and properly formatting the SMS, and technical issues in SMS delivery. To address these challenges, IBD and Awaaz.De have launched a national IBD phone line for people across India to query the donor database through IVR. Give it a try yourself!
Calling the number, you will be able to enter your STD pin code and specify the blood group you are looking for. The system then returns a 10-digit number for a local donor in your city to contact. The system is available in English and Hindi and is of course accessible 24 hours a day.
We hope this small contribution to IBD’s mission will help better connect people to a very valuable service.