“The purpose of life is not to be happy. But to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have to make some difference that you have lived at all,” goes a popular saying. And guess what made many in the district realise the essence of these lines in the recent times. It was dengue, a vector borne disease which terrified Maduraiites to the hilt.

With a majority of the victims being children, hundreds of grief-stricken families learnt the hard truth that blood, the most precious lifesaving fluid, does not get booked over a toll free number and delivered within 30 minutes like a pizza. Dengue made them share the agony faced by other patients in need of blood and understand the necessity of donating voluntarily once in three months.

Almost all including doctors, blood bank administrators and regular blood donors concur with each other that the recent bout of dengue had created a panic as anxious families had to run from pillar to post first to get admission for their near and dear ones in overcrowded hospitals and then in search of donors who were in short supply and unable to meet the great demand. A. Kannan, Head, Department of Paediatrics and Neonatology, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, said that dengue had not spared even a 20-day-old baby. “The baby’s platelet count dipped to 20,000. We conducted a test on the mother and found her to be negative for the disease. So, maternal transmission was ruled out. Yet, we saved the baby and it is hale and healthy now,” he added.

Explaining the enormity of the situation, V. G. Krishnamoorthy of Annai Abirami Blood Bank here said: “In the last one month alone. I have made outgoing calls from my mobile phone for over 3,000 minutes. Demand for blood was at its peak during this period. It encouraged many first time donors who came forward to donate for the sake of their friends and relatives.”

Stating that most of them had promised to be regular donors in the future, he said that dengue had indeed played a decisive role in encouraging blood donation. Acknowledging the role played by youngsters particularly college students during every crisis, he said that in one case even a transgender offered to donate blood for another sick transgender.

“They asked me hesitatingly whether I would accept their blood . I said why not. I would certainly accept your blood and use it after the mandatory screening procedures. A blood bank is the only place where caste, creed, colour, sex and religion fade into oblivion and people from all walks of life puncture their veins to palliate others’ agony,” he added.

A. Ramesh, a 39-year-old employee of the Tamil Nadu Highways Department and one of the founder members of ‘Uyirthuli’ (meaning a drop of life), a group comprising around 1,500 voluntary blood donors, said that the eagerness among people to donate blood had increased exponentially ever since their organisation was started in 1999.

“There were days when we were called ‘Ratha Kaatterigal’ (vampires) because we went around motivating people to donate blood. But now things have changed. Yet, this is not enough. Many people are still hesitant about donating blood. They are either selfish or mired in the world of myths. We must motivate them and make them see sense.

“Our efforts must lead to a day when every healthy individual would donate 350 ml of blood once in every three months from the legally permissible age of 18 and continue to do so until 60 years of age thereby giving away a whopping 58 litres of blood in his or her lifetime. If one person can donate so much, just imagine how much a community as a whole could contribute in the service of mankind,” he pointed out.

More In: Madurai