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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Chennai college students use Tinder, social media apps for blood donation drive during pandemic

"Every blood group has its own moderator so that there is no confusion and the privacy of the donor is maintained. That single person will be in contact with the donor from the beginning till we resolve the case," said Riya Gupta.

Written by Janardhan Koushik |
Updated: May 21, 2021 10:43:54 pm
Riya Gupta, a 21-year-old Medical student from Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, started the initiative ‘Blood Donor Connect’ to help people in need during Covid-19 pandemic.

Necessity is the mother of invention and these Chennai college students are making the most of the available resources to cater to the needy in times of pandemic. To help hospitals and patients source blood for emergency operations, a bunch of Chennai medicos and other volunteers have started a blood donation drive through social media channels, including the popular dating app Tinder.

“So when I was sitting and brainstorming how to get donors I decided to do something out of the box. I was not using Tinder for a long time because I was busy with college and other things. Once college was shut down, I thought of re-activating my Tinder application for this purpose. My friends too did that. We met several interesting people through Tinder. I see their bio and if it reads activism then I know this person will be interested in what I got to say. That’s how all these initiatives started, says Riya Gupta, a 21-year-old Medical student from Chettinad Academy of Research and Education.

Her initiative ‘Blood Donor Connect’ commenced in April. As soon as she receives a request from beneficiaries she puts it on her Tinder page and also on other social media handles to amplify the messages. Till now, more than 100 members have signed up as donors.

While the initiative is aimed at reducing the spread of Covid-19, it has its own challenges.

“It’s been a month since we started doing this. The cases started to pile up in large numbers since April. The blood banks in the city have run of stock. People were tagging me on Instagram and Twitter asking whether I can help them with beds since I am a medical student. During this, I started to receive blood requests as well, so when I started calling the blood banks, they said they don’t have the blood and were asking to refer them the donors. And then I got in contact with Lion’s club about organising a blood donation drive but since it’s a pandemic people were not really ready to step out to donate. They asked if there is a way to collect their blood samples at the nearest location so that they don’t have to travel any far. While I was making arrangements for the drive, I had stored all the information of these donors through a Google doc. So using these forms I started connecting them to hospitals and SOS cases near their location. After a while, I realised it is starting to create a chain reaction. I was doing this all alone, and after some days a couple of my friends even wanted to be part of this and this led to us finding some more people from our college and other medical colleges in the city. Many volunteers started to register themselves,” Riya added.

All the people associated with Riya are either her batch mates or juniors in college and schools. The 15-member gang of 20-year odds are making sure they follow a due procedure for processing the requests. They get around nine-ten requests from the beneficiaries per day. The volunteer group said a majority of them are from Adyar Cancer Institute. They also process the request of beneficiaries who reach Chennai from cities. They even arrange transport for some of them and after verification, they immediately connect them to the donor.

“So we have an organised group. We tried to have at least one person from each medical college in the city in our group because it will be easy for us to find donors. Every blood group has its own moderator so that there is no confusion and the privacy of the donor is maintained. That single person will be in contact with the donor from the beginning till we resolve the case. So every time a case comes in, a person verifies the case and finds out how urgent the beneficiary needs, when is the surgery, etc, and based on that we decide whether to work on the case immediately or the next day,” Riya added.

The group has also begun conducting a vaccination drive from Friday and they are planning to expand their wings.

Meanwhile, India’s COVID-19 daily recoveries continued to outnumber the daily new cases for the eighth consecutive day, with 3,57,295 patients recuperating in a span of 24 hours.

India has recorded less than 3 lakh new cases for five consecutive days now. Ten states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Assam – reported 76.66 per cent of the 2,59,551 new cases registered in a day, the health ministry said.

Tamil Nadu has reported the highest daily new cases at 35,579 followed by Kerala with 30,491 cases.

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