Health, Asia - Pacific

Man in India embarks on mission to save people from shortage of blood

Kiran Verma on 13,000-mile trek to raise awareness about blood donation

Shuriah Niazi   | 10.05.2022
Man in India embarks on mission to save people from shortage of blood

NEW DELHI 

In December 2016, Kiran Verma quit his lucrative marketing job to stand up for the cause of voluntary blood donation as, according to him, about 12,000 people die in India every year due to the unavailability of blood.

A year later, Verma initiated a non-profit cause that he named Change With One. The foundation is endeavoring to create a world where no one dies waiting for blood donation.

“We are working to solve blood donation-related issues and aim to bring harmony and social equality by connecting people to donate or receive blood through our virtual blood donation platform called Simply Blood. Our mission is to save lives through voluntary blood donations,” he told Anadolu Agency on the occasion of Blood Week observed on May 6-12.

The NGO also strives to provide basic sustainability where all children attain an education, good health, and well-being so they no longer die of illnesses and have access to clean water and food.

“We respect the culture and diversity, and hence, we are one,” said the 37-year-old Delhi-based social activist.

“We are working to ensure that nobody dies waiting for blood in India."

The platform has so far saved about 35,000 lives by ensuring the timely availability of blood.

Verma recalled a disturbing incident in 2016 which made him leave his high-paying job and resolve to work towards ensuring free access to donated blood. He said it is outrageous that middlemen or touts charge money for providing the donated blood to needy people.

“In December 2016, I received a call from a person who told me that a poor family from (the central Indian state of) Chhattisgarh urgently required blood. I donated blood to that family.

"But later, when I chanced to meet the patient’s wife, I learned the person who had called me had collected 1,500 Indian rupees (about $25) in lieu of the blood donated for free. This was a lot of money for the poor woman and she was even forced into prostitution to pay medical bills. This incident shook me and changed the course of my life."


On 13,000-mile trek across the country

Verma is currently on a 21,000-kilometer (around 13,000-mile) trek across the country on foot to motivate people to donate blood. The journey began last Dec. 28 and will be completed in nearly two years, covering all states and union territories.

“The aim is to inspire people to donate blood so that blood banks and hospitals don't run out of blood,” says Verma.

In 2018, he traveled 16,000 km (9,941 mi) across India, covering over 6,000 km (3,728 mi) on foot to create awareness about blood donations.

His goal is that "nobody should die because of a lack of blood by 2025 in India.”

Anil Sharma, a blood donor, said Verma is doing a job that no one can do.

“I've seen many people dying in the absence of blood. If he (Verma) succeeds in his goal, then it will really help those poor people who have to spend thousands of rupees just to buy blood for their dear and near ones,” Sharma told Anadolu Agency.

According to Verma, 15 million units of blood are required in India every year, while only 10 million units are available.

He said the gap between the need and availability of blood widened further during the COVID-19 pandemic as donations declined drastically due to the fear of infection and even regular donors shied away from making donations. But thanks to Verma's unflinching efforts, things are changing for the better.

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