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81 and counting

Why is it that when blood is spilt, it makes headlines, but the donation of blood goes almost unnoticed?

This is the question asked by N P Satheesan, owner of Smooth Ride garage in Tripunithura, Kochi.

Satheesan, a true crusader for the cause of blood donation was honoured by the IMA for his efforts. In fact, he has been a donor no less than 81 times, and looks healthy enough to go for a century. Satheeshan, who started donating blood at the age of 19, recently organised a blood-donation camp at Mission School in Tripunithura. “We organise about 32 camps a year, and we are able to collect over 1000 units of blood.”

“By God’s grace, we are able to organise blood for at least two or three people each day,” he said.

He may be the only person in Kerala to create his own directory of relatives and blood donors, spanning every district of Kerala and covering 6,000 donors. He can arrange for blood in any district in Kerala, with just a phone call. His motto is simple — no man should die for want of blood, and his sole reward is the gratitude he sees in people’s eyes.

What saddens him is that there is an acute shortage of blood donors in Kochi. While the demand for blood has sky-rocketed over the last 15 years donors have reduced due to an increasing number of people being plagued by lifestyle diseases like diabetes. Another lament is that women donors consists a paltry 6 percent of the total blood donors in India. “Women actually make better donors, because their blood is purer as they generally do not drink or smoke as much as men. But women do not wish to donate blood, out of ignorance and fear. We try to raise the levels of awareness through our camps, but more needs to be done” he said.

There is a prevalent notion that blood donation can have adverse effects on health. But research has proved that blood donation actually reduces the chances of a heart attack. “Having donated 81 times, I have no health problems. It’s like drawing water from a well. It constantly gets replenished, and will never dry out,” Satheeshan said. “We are always looking for more donors, anyone is welcome.”

It is said that every 2 seconds someone needs blood. However it is rather sad that there has been a rapid decline in the number of donors throughout India. In such a situation people like Satheesan are no less than God send angels for the people in dire need of blood.