Five friends joined hands to address the shortage of blood. They named it Friends2support

Beep! Beep! Your cellphone flashes a message. B(-)ve blood urgently required. What would you do? Maybe forward the same message to your friends or make an appeal on the social networking sites. And what if the required blood group were AB(-)ve? In some cases it takes so long between the request for blood and the procurement that by the time the donor is found it is too late.

After having witnessed major problems with blood donation, a group of childhood friends a decade ago decided to raise a few simple but important questions.

Have you witnessed a relative or close friend searching frantically for a blood donor? What do you do when blood banks say out of stock? What if the donors you know are out of reach? Have you witnessed loss of life just because a donor was not available when needed?

“Is it something that we as a society can do nothing to prevent?” asks Shareef. That thought was the foundation of Friends2support, an organisation that brings voluntary blood donors and those in need of blood on to a common platform. “Through this website, we seek donors who are willing to donate blood, as well as provide the timeliest support to those in need of it,” explains Shareef, a Hyderabad-based web designer.

Friends2support began their work in 2005 in a small room with just 100 voluntary donors. “But we were all driven with the zeal to serve our society, to inspire and spread the word. We dream to fulfil 100 percent blood need in India,” explains Shareef.

Years ago, five friends from Guntur — S.K. Shareef, Naveen Evuri, Phani Kethamakka, Koteshwararao Sanampudi and Muralikrishna Mothukuir — were shocked when they saw school children 10-12 years old lured with chocolate and cricket balls to donate blood. “If that was not enough to get us thinking we witnessed poor rickshaw-pullers being fed and bribed with alcohol bottles to collect blood twice a month,” says Shareef. It is basic knowledge that no one can donate blood twice a month, he points out.

Once on their own to pursue higher studies, the five friends made their resolve stronger. “We were all studying to pursue the software dream,” says Shareef. “While here we got ample chance and time to begin the field work. I met hospitals authorities, blood collection centres, doctors and others from the medical profession to know the blood scene.”

What they found out in due course of their investigation to begin a unique platform was shocking. To their dismay they realised that negative blood group cost twice as much as positive.

Added to this was the fact that most of the mass-blood camps, in which several thousands of people donate blood, actually waste a lot of blood. “No hospital or blood bank can store more than 300 blood packets,” says Shareef. “As a city we do not have such huge facilities. This made us to think what is done with the blood. And it is still a mystery as to how such an important component can be wasted.”

Shareef and his friends say it gives them great satisfaction each time they see new donors added to the list. The biggest satisfaction, explains Phani, comes when hospitals contact them. “Now most of the leading corporate hospitals publish their requirement or get in touch with donors through our site. We have created such a platform that donor and seeker can establish contact on their own,” he says.

While Phani and Shareef promote the group in the city, the rest, who are based abroad, provide the technical and monetary support. “We contact each other every month for our meeting and since it is a website it is mostly technical upgradation which we require. And since we are in the software industry we make sure to exploit the latest technology to provide easy and speedy access.”

Their vision is to fulfil every blood request in the country.