LIFE

A mission for the sake of life

ALPHONSE KURIAN may have been born in Tanzania, brought up in Kollam, and gone to college in Madhya Pradesh, but he is bringing smiles to the faces of many Bangaloreans.

Mr. Kurian, 49, President of Lions Club of Sanjaynagar and Chief Personnel Manager of ITI (Network Services Unit), never knew that he would make a difference to thousands of families by showing them how to get blood for transfusion when it is required.

The first phase of life in Bangalore was not eventful for Mr. Kurian. After working for three years in Mumbai for a pharmaceutical company, he came to Bangalore in 1980. He had joined the ITI as Assistant Personnel Manager. In just over a decade, he was serving patients and their relatives who were frantically searching for elusive blood donors.

An MSW (Master of Social Work) from the Indore School of Social Work, he always wanted to make a positive contribution to society. As an activist of the Lions Club, he started organising blood donation camps. "But I used to see many people frantically searching for blood donors, and found that camps were no answer.'' Then he found the mission of his life: making blood donors accessible to patients.

He started off by getting details of those who wished to donate blood. He persuaded his friends and colleagues to register with him as donors. In the first year, he had about 200 names of donors of different blood groups. He soon realised he had to go about the programme on a large scale to make it really useful. He convinced the members of the Lions Club to publish the names of blood donors in the form of a directory. That was in 1996. The revised editions of the directory are published every year. The sixth edition, which is expected to have about 1,400 group-wise names of donors, is due for publication.

Mr. Kurian attends to calls from relatives of patients, who request him to read out the names of donors of a particular blood group. He never feels annoyed. "Any needy person can call me (3333195) between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.,'' he says.

He meticulously works on the master copy of the directory every day, and takes note of the date on which each volunteer gave blood. This is important because there has to be a gap of at least three months between two blood donations. He says there is no point in giving the name of a volunteer, who donated blood recently, to a person who has called for help.

Many donors change their jobs and places of residence, and Mr. Kurian keeps revising the telephone numbers and addresses of the registered volunteers, wherever possible. Updating the directory of donors has become a part of his mission.

The directory is doing wonders for patients. People write to Mr. Kurian, thanking him and the donors. "I got a second life because of you,'' is a common phrase they use. Not less than 40 volunteers donate blood a month on an average.

Mr. Kurian regrets the lack of awareness about the facility among patients and their relatives. Often, relatives' search for donors ends in disappointment because the people whom they have approached cannot help or are unwilling. Mr. Kurian's concern is to make the website and the directory more popular, and enlist more donors.

Mr. Kurian does sacrifice his family life in pursuit of his goal. His wife, Sonia, has no complaints. What motivates him is the smile on the faces of patients and their relatives when blood in made available in time. Mr. Kurian can be contacted on e-mail (mail@lionsbloodline.com).

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