To the ones who help us through life

If there ever were a competition for the Most Appropriate Title, this one wouldn’t even get through the entries. You wouldn’t expect anyone to write this for a ‘work anniversary’ as LinkedIn (ever so kindly) reminds me. But somehow, I managed to rig the competition to my favour and oddly enough, this seems to be perfect for My two years in BloodConnect.

Do note the personalisation, I say My.

My, because it’s become such an important part of me as a person (mind you; I’ll say I’m not ‘just’ a person but a force to be reckoned with) with a weird spelling (girl or a guy?) called Cearet.

My, because you never know what you chance upon. And sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find what is exactly right for you. You’ll feel as though you were made for this. And my chance was BloodConnect’s volunteer application.

My, because, a home (away from home) is such a simple concept but sometimes, people spend their entire lifetimes looking for their familiar and happy place. When you feel a sense of belongingness to someone or to some thing, embrace it. And remember: nothing good ever goes away. This good thing will always stay with me.

My, because when you love the work you do (it still feels like work :P), there’s nothing that can compare with that feeling. When you’re passionate, your eyes light up and in that moment, that spark seemingly lasts forever. You’ll do all you can, you’ll give it your everything and even then you’ll wonder what more you can give. I hope you never lose your sense of wonder (much like Lee Ann).

My, because you need people who’ll tell you when you’re being a jerk but who’ll also tell you that you’re downright amazing. They’ll say mean things to you but never (ever) behind your back. Their honesty will be cringe-worthy, their feedbacks would be worse than onions. Take it all in. It’ll make you a better person and a better volunteer. There will be days when you wouldn’t want to work; go to these people, they’ll turn it all around for you. Attend camps with them, attend GBMs with them and slowly but surely, they’ll become like those flies at the edge of the windshield where the wipers don't reach and who always remain. Go, meet those flies.

Here’s to the things/people/feelings/whatever you might want to call it that are essential to your being and who’ll help you through life.

Remember, make this time your own. And come back here, I promise to listen to all your stories with the same love and enthusiasm as I am telling you mine.

Why you need to be at IIT Delhi on 6th August

You. Yes, you.

You need to be at  IIT Delhi on 6th August at 6pm. Join BloodConnect as we celebrate our sixth anniversary in the grandest ceremony you have ever been a part of.

Keep up till the end. You will NOT be disappointed.

Eye catching performances

Hansraj College’s Terpsi Chorean will present a dance number.

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 Eye openers

A special performance by the children of the National Thalassemic Welfare Society, to show you how talent and endeavour can cross all hurdles.

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NIKHIL D’SOUZA

Yes I had to put that in Caps. Because, duh!

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If concerts are your kinda thing, this is the place to be this Saturday. No doubt about it.

Opportunity to register with the team of BloodConnect

Come meet the team of BloodConnect and see how we work. If the cause to work for society does not let you sleep in the night, and you want to work with us- register yourself at the Annual Event.

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Perks of Donating Blood

A spider bite might not transform you into a superhero, but a small needle prick and a fifteen minutes by your watch sure can. Yes, by donating blood once you’ll be saving up to three human lives. Isn’t the “I’m the saviour” sash awesome?

Oh wait, here is even more awesome news: not only is donating blood extremely beneficial to those on the receiving end, it also has proven benefits to the person donating blood. Here are some of the benefits you gain for your humanitarian efforts.

 

  • The ultimate joy.

 

Close your eyes and think of a situation when you feel everything is collapsing, your hopes are diminishing and you have nothing to cling to.. Suddenly an angel comes into your life to lighten your hopes, to take you back into the sunshine. How does it feel? Amazing, no?

Amplify this feeling now, because the joy of saving a single life is indescribable.

Try it, once!

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  • Get a free mini-checkup!

 

Before blood donation, your body is scanned of all possible risks. The mini-physical prior will check your pulse rate, blood pressure, haemoglobin level, platelets count, body temperature and more. Hence, this will shed light on the issues that you are unaware of.

Highlight, that this bonus comes FREEEE!

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  • Au revoir to cardiovascular problems.

 

Regular blood donations keeps an eye on the levels of iron. Though, iron is an essential element for the proper functioning of the body, excess can result to excessive oxidative damage. This means, blood donation can arrest the culprit behind heart attacks, cancer, accelerated ageing and strokes.

Pretty cool, huh?

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  • Calories… check; burn; done!

 

One blood donation equals 650 Kcal fired. Since, one can donate only four times in an year which means 2600 kcal yearly.

Whoaa! I’m impressed, I confess.

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  • Easy blood flow.

 

Do you know what a high-sugar diet, smoking, radio frequencies, and other toxic electromagnetic forces, emotional stress, anxiety, high cholesterol, and high uric acid levels do to your blood?

All of these make your blood hypercoagulable, meaning it makes it thick, viscous and thereby exposes the risk of arterial blockages, clots, inflammation etc.

This is where repeated blood donations come to rescue. It helps your blood to flow better, possibly limiting the damage.

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So, what’s the wait now? As soon as you turn eighteen, you are all set to go!

BE AWARE FROM THE RARE

“It’s not just the blessings but even curse that come in disguise”, I heard an old woman lamenting on the streets of Palampur village. When I approached her to find out the matter, I found her saying, “I lost my young daughter recently who was suffering from some rare blood disease”. Little did the woman know about the cause of her young lady’s death. So after all this when I looked around, I found myself surrounded by a crowd of curious faces, enjoying the scene but doing nothing to help the old mother.

When I questioned the people about the disease, they started making alien faces. I decided to look into the medical files of the dead young daughter to stop the clouds of curiosity swirling in my head and to explain the reason of death of a daughter to her mother.

So, I found that she was suffering from MYELODISPLASTIC SYNDROME, known as MDS or mylodisplasia which is a blood related medical condition related to ineffective production of blood cells . Patients suffering from MDS, suffer from anaemia and require blood transfusions. To know more about it, I turned to the internet. There I found that MDS is listed as a “rare disease” by the Office Of Rare Disease [ORD] of of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]. Orphanet, a consortium European partners currently defines a condition ‘rare’ when it affects 1 person per 2000. I told her that MDS is a type of cancer where the bone marrow does not make enough healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets and there are abnormal blast cells in the blood or in the bone marrow. In an MDS patient, the immature blood cells die either in the blood or in the bone marrow. So with a few blood cells the body is prone to anemia, infections and easy bleeding.

After telling her all this, I saw the empty eyes of the old woman asking me the cause of such a disease. I further told her that use of certain chemotherapy drugs for cancer plays a role in later development of MDS cases. Some inherited conditions like Fanconi Anaemia where bone marrow fails to make blood cells, Shwachman – Diamond Syndrome which keeps bone marrow from making white blood cells and exposure to certain industrial chemicals are the causes of MDS. Smoking also increases the risk of MDS. Listening to all this, the mother replied that her daughter never smoked but it was her grandmother who happened to be suffering from cancer in her times. And so, inheritance was the cause of MDS in her daughter. The old lady further told me that her daughter suffered from anaemia, unusual bleeding, fatigue, bruises and red marks under her skin which all were the symptoms of this rare disease. She further told that samples of blood, bone marrow was taken for the diagnosis, physical checkup was also done but it was too late. With tears in her eyes, I do not know why the woman asked that how could her daughter have been treated, if the diagnosis was done timely.

Looking over the net, I told her that chemotherapy drugs which is even used to treat leukaemia, growth factors encouraging bone marrow, blood transfusion, antibiotics and on top of it stem cells transplant – could have been the only treatment capable of curing MSD through which new stem cell start producing new blood cells in the body .

Listening to all this, the woman suddenly stood up with vigour and vowed to start a campaign to raise awareness for Myelodisplastic Syndrome, blood donation and bone marrow donation so that no other mother would ever lose her daughter because of this. Thus, awareness gave a new motive to a hopeless and deeply crushed old woman.

We must also be aware from not just prevalent diseases but also from the rare ones because PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.

Orlando: Where did we go wrong?

In a recent appalling incident 49 people were shot dead, and 53 wounded in a shooting that took place in Pulse, a club in Orlando.

The rise of gun violence in the United States is common knowledge. Quite disturbingly, there have been recent incidences in Panaroma City and New Mexico. But what makes this incident different from the rest is probably the fact that Pulse is a gay club.

The killer was Omar Mateen, a man known to be sympathetic to jihadi sentiments. However he does not seem to be directly affiliated to the ISIS or any other terrorist group. Routine background checks (which included psychological evaluations) by G4S, the security company he worked for, did not reveal any tangible information that might have been predictive of his actions.

However his internet search history has shown that he consumed a lot of propaganda. He seems to have been influenced to quite an extent by jihadist sentiments.

This shooting was in fact, a demonstration of an effort by a radical person to ‘cleanse’ out the community. And this is in a country where gay marriages are legal in all states.

Maybe it is time we looked at how tolerant we, the people of the world, are.

In a country like India, where homosexuality is banned by law, questions asking if homosexuality is ‘right’ or ‘natural’ are still debatable to many.

However, the more important thing here is not whether the people who were shot were ‘justified’ in their sexual orientations or not, but if such extreme actions are warranted on anyone’s part towards people who do things that they deem dishonorable.

There are seven billion people in this world. To expect everyone to accept, or even understand the rationality of our arguments is in fact, at its very base a flawed idea. As citizens of this nation, and of this world, the sooner we make our peace with this the better.

When we talk to people, when we listen to them, it opens our minds to broader avenues. We develop as individuals, we become capable of thinking differently. We do not have to ingrain their beliefs or think that we are wrong. Just listen. Nod our heads. We will become more intelligent.

Unfortunately for us, our intolerance affects us more than anyone else. There is only so much of the world we can change to suit our mindset, and we will have to live with the rest of it in pain. And that pain can be excruciating for some of us, so much so that we might end up doing things like the ones that led up to the events that transpired on that fateful night.

Omar Mateen was no extraordinary man. He worked as a security guard in Florida. He was driven by homophobia, he had access to a gun and he thought he was fit enough to decide the fate of those people in the club. If he had been more tolerant, the people who died that night would have lived. He would have lived.

Around the world, the incident has garnered widespread support.

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A vigil was held at Los Angeles City Hall on Monday. CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times

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Eiffel Tower lit up in the rainbow colours

The world has gathered to show its support to Orlando victims and their families. People in Orlando are rallying to donate blood for the victims. The turnout for blood drives has been so big, traffic is snarled in several areas, and OneBlood (https://www.oneblood.org/) had to start turning donors away because it ran out of supplies. People were parking on the grass and sidewalk to get in line. Others walked through the crowds, passing out water, bagels, sunscreen and Gatorade.

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POTUS Barack Obama has petitioned to put an end to gun violence. It is time we are more tolerant, more accepting of the fact that not everyone in the world is going to see things our way; and simply killing them is not the way to go about it.

There has been a lot of debate going around the world as to whether this was an act of ‘terrorism’ or if Mateen had mental health issues. In either case, Mateen the Terrorist or Mateen the Mental Health Patient had a hard time accepting an idea.

Let us be more loving, more vocal, and put our words where our weapons are. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What have we become?

Ours is a country of many problems and a powerful youth. BloodConnect is a classic example of how a group of motivated young students can tackle any problem. Being a youth run NGO, BloodConnect provides innumerable opportunities to its members enabling them to discover their potential and hone their skills.

In due course of being a part of BloodConnect, the members grow into the kind of individuals they once only looked up to.

Talking to families of patients, arranging donors, organizing camps, pitching to people, encouraging them to donate, all these bring us out of our comfort zone and redefine our understanding of the world around us. Members holding the positions of Vice President, Managers or Executives of any departments get lucky chances to make contacts, develop corporate relations, brainstorm over ideas that help the cause, activate their leadership quality and in due course, develop their personality.

BloodConnect develops its members into people that have a can-do attitude and are willing to challenge themselves to grow. For certain, BloodConnect is not the sole reason for the success of its members but it surely has helped them achieve greater heights. Our member, Shivani Garg, who was the Vice President of the Camps department, got through Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. For Shivani her work in BloodConnect helped her ace her interview. Another one of our members, Navdha Khera, made it through Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. Like these, many of our members are placed in some big corporate firms like Bain & Company, Facebook, Ola, CarDekho.com, Opera Solutions, etc.

Over the past 6 years we’ve had honest, diligent and passionate people working as members of BloodConnect and they are the ones to be accredited for the success of BloodConnect as an organisation. In return BloodConnect has proved for them to be a stepping stone to success.

BloodConnect prepares its members better for the future and helps them understand the role they play in making the world a better place, thereby motivating them on the social as well as the emotional front.

BloodConnect has helped us find the best in ourselves , a fact that all our members can attest to.

The experiences we have had, the friends and memories we make in BloodConnect, are going to stay with us for life. It is definitely not cakewalk, but then facing and conquering the challenges are what keep us motivated and strong.

So what do we do?

In the last article I talked of how the shortage is seemingly very little. Also, how our main focus is primarily, on how to get that last two percent of people to donate.

Now you can probably understand why this is really not as easy as it sounds. But we have been over that before, and I am not really a rambler. Today I want to tell you how we go about this. How we, as an organization, try to dismantle the stereotypes that people hold in their minds; things they have heard, things they have been told, or maybe just a general lack of awareness. In our past six years we have gained a few, lost a few. But what lies below is what we have learned till now.

The issue of blood shortage is manifold, in the sense that there are several avenues through which we can work.

In order to make sure that no life is lost for want of blood, we at Blood connect provide a 360 degree solution to the problem.

BloodConnect conducts blood donation camps in various cities (usually in colleges, corporates, or RWAs) across India in association with government blood banks. Blood camps work mainly because they save the donor a trip to the blood bank.

But, there are several other NGOs that do that.

What we do differently, is that we innovate camps by making them theme­based, using social media and by dis-incentivising donation, making it voluntary. Theme-based camps work because from the point of view of a donor, each camp is different. Every time they visit a camp, the music is different, the posters are different, even our mementos are different. Also for our selfie obsessed junta, you can imagine that it will be very difficult fro them to take a selfie while they are donating blood, and I think that is primarily because they don’t really allow you to move that much. So in addition, to enhance donor experience we have photo booths  where they can get themselves clicked.

 

At the camps we have a team of doctors who  check if the donor is healthy enough to donate blood. To ensure the safety of both the donor and the recipient, donors’ health history is discussed as a part of the donation process before any blood is collected. Each donor undergoes s a brief examination during which temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin (or hematocrit) are measured. After this procedure, if found healthy, 1 unit (around 350mL of blood) is collected from the donor.

We also improve awareness about blood donation by organizing Street Plays, Info-Talks, Competitions, presentations, and  interactive activities wherein we talk about the myths and facts associated with blood donation. This is a very important part of our working, because a vast majority of people who do not donate blood are actually not even aware that such a thing is absolutely doable.

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For people who require blood urgently, we have a 24×7 student run helpline with the sole aim of helping those in dire need of blood. The way this works, is that we have a database of donors who are willing to donate in such emergency situations (if there is a shortage in their area of residence/work). When we receive a request for blood, we run through this database and try to look for a donor.

The Helpline department, in fact, is the most basic, and I am going to take the liberty of saying: the most essential part of our organization, given that is actually how BloodConnect started. It targets the need for blood at the grass-root level- where we provide blood directly to those who need it.

These are broadly the three areas in which we work. We call them ‘ground level activities’, because that is exactly what they are. They target the problem right where it exists. The lack of awareness, shortage in blood banks, and urgent requirements in hospitals.

This  way we have  established a network of youth across the country to assist in the movement.

Hang on for the next post, comes on 30th April!

 

 

 

 

On our 6th anniversary we present…

6 Reasons why you should donate at Letzchange.

Today, on our 6th Birthday, we thought of giving you 6 amazing reasons to donate at LetzChange. But, before we tell you why you should donate, we’ve listed down all the important things you need to know about the donation.

 

WHAT IS LETZCHANGE :

  • LetzChange is a non-profit organization helping people raise money for vetted and verified Indian NGO projects online. It has been created solely to enable you to support projects that alleviate suffering and provide long-term solutions.
  • LetzChange does not charge a fee for its service and all donations go directly to the NGO for maximum impact.

 

ABOUT BLOODCONNECT :

  • India faces a shortage of 3 million blood units. This shortage can easily be eliminated if only an additional 2% of India’s youth donates blood.
  • To make this possible, BloodConnect acts as a channel connecting voluntary blood donors with those who need blood. It is a youth-run organization and provides free help and specially works to target the poor and the needy.
  • Since its inception, the organization has grown a lot in terms of working for this cause. BloodConnect has developed a 360 degree solution to the problem of blood shortage.

 

Whether it’s your friend who came to you, asking you to donate some money to her NGO through the fundraising website, or you read about it on social media, or if you simply came to know about us and don’t know how, here are a few reasons why you should donate to us.

 

  1. In case you’re out of those who love to / wish to donate blood but can’t (due to whatsoever  reason), this is the perfect chance to give in your contribution to help us save the world.

You may not be able to donate blood, but you will be contributing to the million other things that need to be taken care of during blood donation.

 

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  1. You don’t have to worry about the cash being used for the right reason and reaching the right people. In fact, no worries about cash. It’s all by card and on the net in front of you. No hidden hacks, we promise!

 

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  1. If you’re out of those who donate blood regularly, and wonder, “I donate blood. Why do I need to give money?” then here is why you should :

 

Firstly, Congratulations! It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing. Each time you donate, you’re saving three lives. Of course you know how many lives you must have lit by now. We’re so glad to come across wonderful people like you.

But, to answer your question, when you want to eat something, do you just buy the vegetables from out? Of course you don’t. Having them is sure shot the primary need. But you can’t really eat it unless you don’t put in efforts to cook it.  

 

That is exactly how it works with donation as well. Blood donation is important, but so are monetary donations. Being a part of the privileged section of the society, we must take this up as our responsibility to do something for the ones who are struggling to pass each day.🙂

 

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  1. Magical Multiplication (1)  : Did we tell you how much difference each of you will make? For each 100Rs you donate, we will receive 700Rs, which will in turn help us make a huge difference. Trust us when we say each donation counts🙂

 

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  1. Magic Multiplication (2) : For every 100Rs you donate, you also help us save 10 lives through our emergency helpline number! Only a mere thought of it feels great, isn’t it? We’re sure you can imagine how great it would be when you actually make it happen😀

 

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  1. The simple pleasure of having helped the ones in need. We haven’t come across one single person who isn’t happy to help and we’re quite sure you feel the same. We’ve heard, good things always come around. May be that is why we’re hoping you’ll help us🙂

 

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For giving in your donations and more details, please click on the link below and do your bit of making a difference.

https://letzchange.org/projects/help-organise-blood-donation-camps

 

We believe making a difference is completely in our hands and the very first step would be doing it ourselves!

 

Stay healthy, Stay fresh and save lives!

BloodConnect.

 

Why I do what I do

Welcome to BloodConnect’s very first blog post!

BloodConnect is an entirely student run NGO that works in the field of voluntary blood donation. Started by a group of motivated individuals in 2010 in IIT Delhi, we have now expanded to 15 cities in India, including Bangalore, Agra, Chennai, and Kolkata.

Now that the customary introduction is out of the way, we are not going to pretend that we are a bunch of world changing, all knowing, super idealistic individuals who know everything about blood shortage. Because let’s be honest here, we do not. What we do know though, and this I can say with absolute conviction, is that the problem exists, and that it affects enough people for us to recognize a need to work towards eradicating it. In our six years we have made a difference, but we are still a long way from solving the problem in its entirety but we are closer than we were yesterday, and that is what keeps us going.

Statistics say that in India, there is a need for 12 million units (1 unit = approx. 350 ml) of blood annually, out of which only 9 million is satisfied. That may seem like not-such-a-bad situation to some of you, but if I told you that if only 2% more people donated blood, we could overcome this shortage, then you would agree that hell, there are probably, really, no mountains to be moved- and this challenge we can work on!

This fact, my dear friends, is what drives us.

Now, imagine this: The latest edition of your favourite game (say, FIFA ’ 16) is finally here. You, the FIFA addict, scramble to download it. You are almost quite there. 95%… 96 %… 97% … 98%… Download failed. What will you do? Restart again, and wait for it to download. You patiently wait for that two percent to download. You check for the internet connection, see if all the wires are up and good, and keep on trying.

This is the closest I can come with an example that a lot of you might be able to relate with. The target of eliminating blood shortage seems so achievable, that we keep on pushing ourselves for it to happen and going by our conviction, it will, certainly.

What we were surprised to find out though, when we started, was that a lot of college students were quite eager to come forward to donate blood. And then there were others, the skeptical ones. The latter hold misconceptions and have some inherent reluctance which make them averse to blood donation. And yet again, there are others, who think that there are already enough people out there who donate blood- so their contribution is not needed.

Herein lies our main challenge – the biggest misconception that we have been trying to get rid of,to make people understand that they matter.  All of us matter. It’s in the little things we do, that make this world a better place.

In our subsequent posts, we will go about telling you how exactly we achieve the task of trying to increase voluntary blood donations in the country. Also, we will introduce you to our dynamic team, the people who make it all happen.

Keep up guys, there are indispensable life lessons we have for you.

Stay tuned, next post comes live on April 15!