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The Gift of Life, One Drop at a Time

Thiruvananthapuram: A‘techie’ is often bracketed with that section of society whose world revolves around the computer, who works round-the-clock for the clients oblivious to the surroundings and comparatively having very limited communication with the outside world. However, here we find a group of IT professionals which stands for a different and noble cause – the

Thiruvananthapuram: A‘techie’ is often bracketed with that section of society whose world revolves around the computer, who works round-the-clock for the clients oblivious to the surroundings and comparatively having very limited communication with the outside world.

However, here we find a group of IT professionals which stands for a different and noble cause – the act of donating blood – the most priceless gift one could give to another individual without much cost. These employees of Technopark and UL CyberPark consider blood donation as their passion and believe that it is their responsibility to save a life.

technopolis spoke to a few such individuals from Technopark and UL CyberPark, who shared their views on blood donation, how it is giving them a sense of fulfillment, the myths surrounding it and the challenges faced by stakeholders.

Even amid a busy work schedule, there are a number of young Information Technology professionals who consider blood donation a noble mission and believe that it is their responsibility to come forward and help others. With blood always in short supply, the youngsters also give an important message to society

A DONOR SPURRED BY HIS KIN’S NEED
An emergency blood requirement for his sister post delivery was a thought-provoking moment for Sankardev K P and he understood the importance of blood donation, after which he has been a regular donor. “My sister had complications during her delivery and she needed blood continuously for three days. She had to get 49 units. I understood how the patient and family members struggle when they are in need of blood. So, I do not hesitate to donate whenever a requirement arises,” says Sankar, who belongs to Kannur and has donated blood more than twenty times.

An employee of Aries Epica at Technopark and member of Tejus, Sankar has been an active donor for the last six years, ever since his college days and continuing his noble gesture after arriving at Technopark. He has donated blood six times after becoming a member of Tejus.

“Anyone can be in need of blood, so we need to cultivate the habit of donating blood. We can be instrumental in providing a new lease of life. While blood can be donated at an interval of three months, platelets can be donated every seven days by a person weighing above 50 kg,” says Sankar. Sankar has been instrumental in encouraging other people to donate blood. “There are many misconceptions about donating blood, the reason why many people hesitate to do so. Many do not know dos and don’ts of blood donation. There have been cases when the individual, without enough sleep and food, go to donate blood. They do not drink enough water also. Such people get tired soon after donating blood and may even fall unconscious,” he says.

A CASUAL AFFAIR BECAME SERIOUS

A blood donor since the age of 18, Jithin P B from Malappuram has become more regular ever since he entered Technopark three years ago. “Initially, I used to donate blood casually and did not realise its importance. But, gradually, I understood the nobility and real impact of my act,’’ he says.

An employee of Triassac Solutions Private Limited, Jithin feels that people back out from donating blood mainly due to lack of awareness. “If a requirement arises for a family member, they would not hesitate. The same approach should be applied for an outsider also,” he adds.

‘VISIT PAEDIATRIC WARD OF RCC’

“If you think you have a big problem, please go visit the paediatric ward in Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), Thiruvananthapuram and you will know how small your problem is,” says Ernakulam native Krishnaprasad R, an employee of Polus Software Private Limited. An IT professional, who is also an executive member of Tejus, the blood donation forum at Technopark, Krishnaprasad considers blood donation as a passion and says that even money cannot replace blood. “Donating blood may prove beneficial to three people. Apart from blood, the blood cells and platelets can be taken,” says Krishnaprasad, who has been donating since the age of 18.

“Even though Technopark community comprises educated people, we need more awareness on blood donation,” he says.

Krishnaprasad supports the view that there should be a change in the perspective of the people who say that they provide blood only to their relatives. He remembers a man bringing a donor all the way from Kannur and accommodating him in a lodge near RCC. “The man believed that blood can be transfused only from his relatives, not from an outsider. We had to convince him that it was not the case,” he said.

‘MORE WOMEN SHOULD DONATE’

As an active member of CSR initiatives in Technopark, Karthika Gopinath, an employee of IBS Software Services, has donated blood over nine times. A donor since college days, she often visits Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), Thiruvananthapuram for the purpose.

She feels that when compared to men, women hesitate to come forward to donate blood. One reason for this is the issue of blood count they face. They often would lack the required blood count for donating. The other reason is unwanted fear.

“I try to convince other women to donate blood and suggest that they maintain a healthy diet to increase the blood count and get over unwanted fears. Some women, who have accompanied me to RCC, have said that they do not wish to donate the next time. On the other hand, there have also been instances where they said that they got a sense of satisfaction and that they were willing to donate blood again,” says the Kannur- based techie.

Karthika has also taken the initiative to organise trips to hospitals for donating blood. “Once, a two-year-old child needed blood. I still keep in touch with that family,” she says.

A VETERAN TECHIE DONOR

A member of Tejus, Suresh Kumar A has donated blood 22 times, of which 12 was as a member of Tejus. “I started donating blood when I was in my previous job. I used to go to (RCC) for donating blood. Once you go there, you will become a regular donor,” says Suresh, who is currently an employee of Alamy Images. RCC is a hospital where there is a perennial requirement for blood. “There have been instances when the bystanders of other patients requested us to find a donor for their patient,” he adds.

“Donating blood gives us a sense of satisfaction, but there are also instances when we feel disheartened. I have been through three such episodes where after donating blood in an emergency, we heard the patient had died. We feel more sad if the deceased were children. I have donated blood to babies aged one-and-a-half years as well as adults,” says Suresh. He goes to RCC every week, either under the aegis of Tejus or on his own. Requests also come from Medical College Hospital and SCTIMST.

‘PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER US IN THEIR PRAYERS’

A Kozhikode native, Reshmi Nambiar working for Gemini Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd. in Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram explains how Tejus has helped her cultivate the habit of donating blood. “I had many pre-conceived notions about blood donation, due to lack of awareness, when I went to Regional Cancer Centre to donate blood for the first time. However, since then, I have been donating often and have done so six times so far,” says Reshmi.

Being a member of Inner Wheel Club, a wing of Rotary, she was into many charity initiatives and that is how she was introduced to Tejus and blood donation. “This is a service which will not cause any loss to us. Even if the people who receive our blood do not know us, they will always remember us in their prayers,” says the IT professional.

TEJUS – THE TORCHBEARER OF BLOOD DONATION

The noble deed of blood donation would not have been so successful and smooth at Technopark if not for Tejus – the blood donation forum at the Park. Officially formed in November 2011 with nine members – mostly from Technopark and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) – Tejus currently has more than 80 members – over 70 of whom belong to Technopark. “There has been tremendous growth and support since the inception of Tejus,” says Brijesh P I, one of the co-founders of the forum.

“Tejus aims at branding Technopark as a life-breeding platform too, apart from being a financial or technological hub. In Thiruvananthapuram, the daily blood requirement is around 500 units. The Park has more than 75,000 employees. If camps are conducted here on a daily basis, I believe that we can meet the entire requirement of the city,” says Brijesh.

Tejus has associated with All Kerala Blood Donors Society (KEBS) in providing blood to hospitals like Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), RCC, Medical College Hospital and General Hospital. The requests come mainly from SCTIMST and RCC, which treat the maximum number of critical patients.
There is good participation from women also. An ‘international’ blood camp was conducted at the Park in 2015 which saw the participation from all states. Its aim was to implement the ‘Vision 2020’ programme – to achieve 100 per cent voluntary blood donation in at least one hospital in each state. “While we have achieved 100 per cent voluntary blood donation in SCTIMST, we want to replicate it in RCC too,” says Brijesh.

“SCTIMST achieved total voluntary blood donation in October 2016 – we can completely rely on the blood bank and need not ask bystanders to arrange donors. This has been made possible through organisations like Tejus,” says Dr. Sulochana Reddy, Head of the Department, Blood Bank, SCTIMST.

“We have been associated with Technopark for so many years, through Tejus and Prathidhwani – socio cultural and welfare organisation of the Park. Initially, only a few companies had come forward to support blood donation, but now many more companies are involved,” she says.

“We have received maximum reach in Technopark with the support from K G Girish Babu, former CEO and Hrishikesh Nair, the present CEO,” says Ajeesh V R, President, Tejus

TECHNOPARK FIRMS OFFER FULL SUPPORT TO THE CAUSE

A mission becomes successful only when there is cooperation from the immediate surroundings. Technopark houses more than 100 companies, and for the success of a mission like blood donation, ample support is needed from the companies working inside the Park. Firms like UST Global, Allianz Cornhill Information Services, Flytxt, Gemini Software Solutions and IBS Software Services are some of the companies that have provided their whole-hearted support to the mission. IBS and Flytxt are two companies that have come forward and sponsored cabs for ‘Prajyot’.
“Every month, we organise 4-5 trips to RCC and SCTIMST. We arrange cabs at discounted rates which includes picking the donor from the Park, taking him or her to the hospital concerned, waiting there and dropping them back at the respective offices in the Park,” says Ramakrishnan K, Executive PMO at IBS.

Ramakrishnan was in the administrative department and in charge of arranging cabs when IBS started this initiative. Along with IBS, Flytxt also arranges cabs for the blood donors. It has an employee engagement committee called Konnect which organises in-house blood donation. The senior members in the company also provide counselling for those people who back out in donating blood in emergency situations.

“Considering its importance, we are planning to continue the cab service in future also,” says Jayakrishnan N, HR Manager at Flytxt.

Gemini Software Solutions is yet another company that conducts awareness campaigns and also arranges transportation for staff going for blood donation. “If an employee goes for donating blood, we consider him to be on duty,” says Hari Sankar, Head-HR.

ACTIVE IN PRAJYOT

“If all of us come together and donate, we can fully meet the blood requirements at RCC and SCTIMST,” says Revathi Ramachandran of Flytxt. She is actively involved in organising ‘Prajyot’ – a trip Technopark organises once a week to donate blood.

A FREQUENT DONOR

Dabison K R, an employee of Prayan Infotech Pvt. Ltd., is yet another active donor who can be included in the club of people who have donated blood more than 15 times. He said that people should voluntarily come forward to donate blood before waiting for an emergency in their family.

PROMOTING PRAJYOT

Sajna Ali is an active organiser of ‘Prajyot’ blood donation trips taken out from Technopark. Even though she is currently not an employee of Technopark, Sajna is still an active member of Tejus blood donation forum. She is also the founder of ‘Appooppanthaadi’- a women’s only travel group started in Kerala.

SATTVA – A BUDDING CSR INITIATIVE AT UL CYBERPARK

A group of like-minded individuals from companies in UL CyberPark, Kozhikode, as part of a CSR initiative, has started a body named ‘Sattva’, which is engaged in blood donation, among other activities. Arun Raj and Nikhil T working for QBurst are two of the members who wish to make this initiative active and lively.

“Currently, we get requests for blood from Medical College Hospital and Baby Memorial Hospital. Either officials at the CyberPark will let us know about it or we learn about the requirement from friends or relatives of the patients in the Park,” says Arun Raj.

“As I belong to Kozhikode, I have many contacts here and get regular enquiries for blood, following which, I make the necessary arrangements,” he adds.

Nikhil, from Malappuram, says that there has been active participation of the employees in the Park. “I have donated four times and except once, I had to go during the office hours and the company was very cooperative,” he says.

Infopark, at present, does not have any common forum that promotes blood donation. Think Palm Technologies, a firm on the campus, had taken the initiative when Indian Medical Association (IMA) conducted a camp.

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