Family members of patients suffering from ailments like thalassemia, cancer and other serious diseases often struggle to arrange for blood in times of crisis. For them, Bhubaneswar-based Dhirendra Thakur is a ray of hope. He helps such families by arranging blood for the patients.
A professional donor, Dhirendra has already donated blood on more than 30 occasions. However, his biggest achievement lies in bringing together a large number of voluntary blood donors and opening a blood donation unit, Lifeline Charitable Trust. Interestingly, the blood donation unit has only a virtual existence on social media app WhatsApp, with more than 2,500 members. These members led by Dhirendra arrange and donate blood to needy families. Besides, Dhirendra also works among cancer patients in rural belts of Odisha, for which he has been felicitated many times.
Born to Brijmohan Thakur and Rita Devi, Dhirendra gave up a cushy corporate job to take up the cause of blood donation a decade ago. “I first donated blood at the age of 18. It was my birthday and I went to Unit-6 to donate blood to a needy patient who had come all the way from Rayagada. There was no one to help him. I heard about him from an acquaintance and rushed to help. The expression on his face was my best birthday gift. For the first time, I felt I had done something good,” he says.
After that, Dhirendra decided to make blood donation his life’s mission and started working to spread awareness about the importance of donating blood. “I became a regular donor and began motivating my friends and relatives to follow me. Today we are a large family of active donors. Everyone should donate blood selflessly, especially for the poor and the needy, as it will not cost you anything but can save someone’s life,” he says.
That said, arranging a blood donor is not as easy as it seems. Dhirendra says, “It wasn’t easy convincing everyone to donate blood even after the group was formed. Every work comes with its set of challenges. I have always given priority to the deprived and feel nobody should die because of shortage of blood. Given that there is a dearth of active blood donors to meet the increasing demand for blood. I always make sure to keep donors with rare blood groups like A negative, AB negative, O negative and B negative ready. Besides, we also organise blood donation camps from time to time. Recently, we have started providing financial help to cancer patients from rural belts of the state to meet their medical expenses.”
Recalling an incident, Dhirendra says, “Once I received a call from a blood bank that a 14-year-old boy Soumya Ranjan, a thalassemia patient, was in urgent need of O negative blood at Capital Hospital. Simultaneously, I received another message that a woman named Pratima was also in need of the same blood group at AIIMS. At times, it becomes difficult to arrange a donor and it takes more than an hour. On other occasions, it becomes tough to motivate and convince people to donate blood at camps. I often find people unwilling to donate blood. They think they will become weak or fall ill if they donate blood in summer.” Yet, Dhirendra on average arranges blood for seven to eight patients every day.
BRATATI BARAL, OP