Society

This Chennai girl used Tinder to help with a blood donation drive

QUICK CONNECT Riya Gupta’s page Blood Donor Connect helps in getting the word across to potential donors   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Remember Tinder? In our pre-pandemic lives, the popular dating app had users swiping left and right in search of the perfect match. Now, despite the lockdown, people are swiping again. Only this time, it is to find blood.

Recently, Bhavan, a two-month-old baby, was to have emergency heart surgery for a condition called Total Anamolous Pulmonary Venous Connection (TAPCV). Due to the pandemic and the havoc it has played on the city’s medical infrastructure, parents of the baby were unable to get the blood group required for the operation. It was 2am, which made it even more difficult to find people who would risk coming to a hospital to donate blood.

This Chennai girl used Tinder to help with a blood donation drive

In a panic, they made numerous calls to friends and put out a request on social media and on WhatsApp. Riya Gupta says, “As soon as I got the request from baby Bhavan’s parents, my friends and I scrambled to find a donor. We put out the request on my Tinder account and by 3am a donor was found. By 8am the surgery was completed successfully.”

A medical student, Riya says, “My friends and I witnessed a number of requests for blood on social media over the last month, ever since the second wave of COVID-19 hit. We dug a bit deeper and found there was a shortage of blood in hospitals and blood banks.” Adding that people who have been vaccinated cannot give blood for 28 days, and neither can people who have had COVID-19, she says, “This combined with the lockdown made it increasingly difficult for patients and hospitals to source blood for emergency operations that couldn’t be put off till after the pandemic eases.”

Riya and her friends had accounts on Tinder, which they stopped using when the pandemic began. They decided to reactivate their profiles for a good cause. “We were inspired by a story we heard about a person who found a plasma donor via Tinder. We have since then got over 100 people to sign up as donors only through the information we provided on our Tinder accounts over the last week,” says Riya.

She adds, “We are connected to Slack and WhatsApp groups of the blood banks of Egmore Children’s Hospital, Maternity Hospital, Egmore, Adyar Cancer Institute etc. Whenever we get an enquiry from there we put the request up on Tinder and send out messages to people we are connected on the app. Once a donor is found we connect them to the patients or the hospitals directly.”

Her Instagram page, Blood Donor Connect, helps amplify the message. “It takes about 30-60 minutes each to find a donor after we get the initial request. We now do around 10 successful cases a day,” she adds.

As word spread, NGOs like Red Cross India and Chennai Tricolour began approaching them, for help with patients in the Government hospitals who were without any means of finding donors. “These are often families who come to Chennai to undergo treatment from neighbouring villages and cities, with the help of NGOs. We verify all requests and if found to be authentic we immediately connect them to a donor.” says Riya.

The initiative is garnering national attention; the group got a shout out from cricketer Suresh Raina recently. Riya hopes to expand all across Tamil Nadu. For baby Bhavan, and the many others they are helping with this repurposed dating app, every swipe is right.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 11:37:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/swipe-right-for-blood/article34541810.ece

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