A group of information technology professionals have got together to use their domain knowledge for a cause. Conceived by five childhood friends, friends2support.org was launched about four years ago with the aim of encouraging voluntary blood donation.

Ahead of World Blood Donation to be observed on Monday, the volunteers are excited about having 60,000 registered blood donors from 8,000 locations across the country.

Shareef, who mooted the idea, says the website “is a platform for blood donors and recipients. We need five crore blood units every year but we get only 40 to 50 lakh units. Surgeries have to be postponed for want of blood. There are crores of voluntary donors who don't know where to go. The website will help such people.”

In the next five years, he hopes to cover the entire country.

Awareness of the website and its activities is low, says M. Jayakrishna, who leads the Chennai team. The group that he leads also works in the IT sector and during weekends conducts awareness programmes in colleges. “In case people are unable to access the Internet, hospital authorities can contact us and we can provide the contact details of the donors. This initiative will also avoid wastage,” Mr. Jayakrishna adds.

The site provides a large database of donors from various areas in Chennai for even rare blood groups such as O negative. “Middlemen demand huge amounts for rare blood groups,” he says.

Any donor can join the website. The donor is expected to key in his/her date of birth and other necessary details. Donors are given the option to edit their profile and update details such as change in location or availability. “When a donor enters the date of last donation, his name is disabled from the donor list for 89 days after donation.” Similarly, if the donor is unwell, he can edit his profile and mark as “unavailable.”

These committed young professionals say the website will root out middlemen who charge exorbitantly for rare blood groups. By allowing the patients to contact the donors directly, they also enable supply at the hospital. Currently, about 150 to 200 donations are registered daily, Mr. Shareef says.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012