Khushroo Poacha, Founder – Indianblooddonors.com
“Help each other One to One. Do not depend on our Leaders”.- Mother Teresa
KHUSHROO POACHA, an office superintendent with the Indian railways, has kept his day job while running Indianblooddonors.com. He’s an unlikely innovator with a mission: to prove that making a difference and sustaining an enterprise isn’t all about money. Though the initial phase of the enterprise brought him to the brink of financial crisis a few times, he tided over.
In India, because there are shortages, especially for rare blood types, patients are often asked to find their own blood. This isn’t easy for anyone. But it’s especially hard for those people who come from villages, far away from main centres, and don’t know how to get around.
Mr. Poacha is Ashoka changemaker and has delivered talk at TEDx Nagpur. He was also invited at the Asian Social Entrepreneurs Summit 2008 held in South Korea.
Prashant Sinha, PGP candidate and member of Utthan – social sensitivity cell at IIM Indore UAE campus had candid discussion with Khushroo Poacha about his initiative. Here is the detailed interview:
1) What does Indianblooddonors exactly do? Who all are with you in the team?
Answer: Indianblooddonors.com is a SMS, IVRS and Mobile App based helpline which helps patients who need blood donors get connected to Voluntary Blood Donors. My wife ‘Fermin Poacha’ is a co-founder. We have Mr Ramesh Sannareddy who has been helping us with coding since 2005 , Awaz.de who are our IVRS Partner , Innoz Technologies who are SMS Short Code Partner, Txtbrowser who are our SMS Shotcode Partner, Net4India who are our Hosting Partners. RJ Karishma of www.radiokarishma.com who helps us record IVRS Prompts.
2) Please share with us about your background before starting Indianbloodonors.
Answer: I was born on 12-10-1967 in Jabalpur. I lost my father at a very young age when I was 16 years old. Therefore, I started working in a Bakery to support my mother who was a teacher. Further I worked for some time at Garden Silk Mills. Later, I joined the Indian Railways at an age of 18. I completed my B.com graduation while working and secured third division.
3) What made you think to start Indianblooddonors? Any personal experience that led to this decision?
Answer: There were couple of incidents in my life that led me to really think on for solving the blood demand gap.
First incident: This Doctor has killed my wife !
There was an incident in September 1994 while my grandmother was admitted into Indira Gandhi Medical College, Nagpur for coma treatment. I was sleeping and at around 3.30 am in the early morning, relatives of a patient were bashing up the resident doctor in the ward. When I enquired I was been told that ‘This Doctor has killed my wife’ and when I checked with the doctor, he said, they were not able to arrange the donors for transfusion and the patient passed away. This incident left me with shock.
Second Incident: Iron Butterfly - Welder dies for want of blood.
In year 1999, we went to buy furniture for my house and there while we wanted to meet the owner of the showroom, we came to know that he is busy in arranging blood for one of the welder in his workshop. I quickly offered my help saying, I am a regular blood donor and we could exchange a card in any of the blood banks for a unit of blood, but alas I was wrong. We could not get blood. The patient died after two days and we could not help him survive. That was sad and I was helpless.
These incidents made me to think as what must be happening to patients who go from one city to another city for treatment, where they have no one to help them. What must be happening to patients who suffer from cancer and need a lot of blood transfusion? What must be happening to children who suffer from sickle cell and thalesemia and who need frequent blood transfusions every month?
I told my wife that we had to do something about this. A solution has to be found to solve this problem. But how it could be done we did not know.
4) Explain the birth of Indianblooddonors.
Answer: 1999 was the year of the dotcom era. Everybody and anybody were launching a website every day. We did not know how to make a website. I did my research across magazines and later one of my brother’s friend helped me in making a website for Rs. 15000. I almost spent my saving and some from my provident fund to shape my thoughts. I call this moment as Eureka moment.
5) Please share with us the challenges you have faced in terms of execution from inception till date.
Answer: In a short span of one year we had spent around Rs 60,000 (in Year 2000) to start and run the site. Every month I looked at huge telephone bills. In those days we had dial up connections. When we had to connect to the internet, we had to pay the Phone Bills as well as Internet usage bills. I paid 2 instalments of Hosting Bills and then ran out of money and was little tensed to pay the further instalments.
We used to call up hospitals, blood banks to use our helpline but they used to bang the phone on us. Newspapers and magazines to write about us few obliged many did not. One MNC CEO told me that I could not do good work without money. I replied back to him that I will show to the world that good work can be done without money.
6) What is the role of your family in supporting your Initiatives?
Answer: They have been very encouraging. My mother has always taught us to reach out to others whom you know and even whom you don’t know. And my wife also supported me to a great extent. We now are blessed with a daughter Tunisha after 19 years. We pray she continues to take the family tradition ahead.
7) During 1990's starting a website was not so easy? How you managed to start and sustain till now?
Answer: Yes, it was difficult we put in our entire resources. Almost 60,000 Rs we spent in year 2000 to set up the entire infrastructure.
I did not know how but I had to carry on. I was in a complete financial crunch. Thank to my wife and my Mother. She always encouraged me saying "Jiska koi nahi uska Khuda hai Yaro" (When there is no one to help you, remember God is there for your help).
Today we are not an NGO, Take no donations and run the helpline in about Rs 10,000/- per annum. Its 15 years now we are doing it.
Answer: Once on call, I went to meet Dr Nimal Jaiswal at his Hospital. He asked me to wait in a room for a few minutes, saying that there were some people who wanted to meet me. A nurse ushered the grateful family of the patient who needed eight units of blood for an emergency operation. The Blood Donors had come in through our site, and helped saving his life.
With deepest gratitude the patient’s wife tried touching my feet and thanked me for the service. She then said "Beta yahi zindagi me tumhara Bank balance hai, Seva kar ke ashirwad pana, usse bada dhan koi nahi.” (No reward in life is greater than the gratitude of your fellowmen for service rendered). This was another turning point in my life and IBD. I was more determined now to take it to maximum needy.
9) Can you give some stats like daily how many inquiries come on to your system for blood need?
Answer: We receive about 100 requests for blood at an average and about 5-10 new donors sign up daily.
10) Do you also keep a check on any mal-practice if happening like donors charging money or other benefits in lieu of blood?
Answer: Yes, we were doing that before but now we don’t. In past 15 years, only one such case has been reported. Moreover, we encourage patient’s family not to take blood from such people.
11) What should be the role of Government, hospitals and individuals to bridge this blood need gap.
Answer: No Comments.
12) Who all are your supporting partners for your initiative? Please elaborate.
Answer: We are fortunate to have great partners who helped us from time to time to take our initiative in a structured manner. Our partners are: IVRS Partner - www.awaaz.de | SMS short Code Partner - www.innoz.com | SMS short Code Partner - www.txtbrowser.com | Hosting Partner - www.net4.in
13) After you, who will take care of the initiative you have started?
Answer: Nature will take care of that. I will pass it on to somebody who will take care of it. Why think of the future. Be in the Present.
14) How can today's youth and readers especially management students contribute towards your initiative?
Answer: Spread the word., motivate more donors to sign up. Students from management schools should join us and help us develop better systems.
15) What is your message to all the readers?
Answer: I quote Mother Teresa – “Help each other One to One. Do not depend on our Leaders”.
Request: Please circulate the below poster to as many people you know and create awareness. This poster may save some life.
For more details about Indianblooddonors, please visit: www.indianblooddonors.blogspot.com