New Facebook Feature in India to Boost Blood Donations

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Like many other countries in the world, India too has a shortage of safe blood. There is also a huge gap in the demand and donations of blood in the country. In some cases, this shortage of blood in blood banks leads to patients and their family being responsible for finding donors to replace blood in the blood banks or hospitals. This can cause undesirable situations as people try to find blood donors on their own. Many people often use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find blood donors.

Facebook’s Hema Budaraju, Product Manager, Health and Ritesh Mehta, Head of Programs, South Asia were intrigued with the idea of finding simple ways to efficiently bring blood donors and needy people together. In India, thousands of people to request blood donors on Facebook each week. The two professionals did a research and found that when people have better information and tools, they’re more willing to donate blood — and it’s easier for people who need blood to find donors.

Eventually, they came up with an innovative application on Facebook -making it easier for people to sign up to be donors and a new way to connect people and organizations with information and tools to find blood donors when needed. Both of the executives have worked collaboratively with nonprofit organizations, health industry experts, potential donors, and people who have used Facebook to find blood donors to ensure that what they are designing will be useful to people in India.

No Hitches for Blood Donors            

Starting from October 1, the National Blood Donor Day, Facebook users in India will be able to start signing up to be blood donors. To help encourage participation, Facebook will show a message in News Feed or people can edit their Profiles to sign up. All information will remain private and set to ‘only me’ by default; however, people can choose to share their donor status on their timelines. This will first be available on Android and mobile web, as these are the most widely-used platforms in India.

How to Use the Application

In the next few weeks, Facebook will also make it easier for people and organizations, such as blood banks and hospitals, to connect with blood donors. When individuals or organizations are in need of blood, they’ll be able to create a special type of post individuals or organizations are with all the information donors need to easily offer help. When a request is created, Facebook will automatically notify blood donors who may be nearby to help spread the word. Donors can then review the request and, if they wish to respond, contact the requestor directly through WhatsApp, Messenger or a phone call. The person who needs blood won’t be able to see any information about the donor, unless the donor explicitly provides it when he/she reaches out to the person in need of blood.

Log on to www.facebook.com/donateblood to learn more and sign-up to be a blood donor.

What Experts Say

Sonu Singh, Manager – Communications and Operations, Rotary Blood Bank: Rotary blood bank started out in 2002, but we still face a large gap in blood supplies compared to what’s required. If we could encourage just a small percentage of the population to donate, it would have a huge impact. Facebook is uniquely positioned to help – they are a large community of trusted connections. People are much more inclined to donate when there is a story behind the request. We look forward to partnering with Facebook to help bring change in a donor’s mindset and to motivate more people in India to donate blood.”

Vishnu Vardhan. T, CEO of NTR Trust: India still faces shortage of safe blood. There are a multitude of challenges for blood banking in India. Lack of awareness about blood donation, reduced connectivity between the patient and the potential donor, among others – making the blood donation process cumbersome. While India is 1+ billion strong, still there aren’t enough blood donors in the time of need. Facebook has long been a positive platform for people in India to connect with Blood Donors and help those in need. NTR Trust welcomes Facebook’s efforts to help make it even easier for people to donate blood in India. We look forward to working together to raise awareness of the importance of donating blood and collectively catalyze sustainable access to safe blood in India. What Facebook is doing has the potential to bring tectonic shifts in Blood Banking in India.”

Harsh Arora, Founder, Sarthak Prayas: Matching blood donors with seekers quickly is a challenging task, especially when we are working against time or the need is for a hard to find blood group. The ability to tap into a pool of donors on Facebook can help solve some of the problems that exist currently. Over the last few months, we have given Facebook ideas around how this new feature can add the most value and it’s great to see some of those implemented!”

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