I spoke to friends and colleagues about SureBlood. Many of them have had some experience in donating blood. One of them had quite tragic story about his grandfather; his grandfather was in an accident, and urgently needed O- blood as his blood group was O-. Since this is a rare blood type, he got it only after 8 hours by which time his condition had become very serious. He passed away an hour later. The doctors said that even if the blood had reached him earlier, there were other complications in his condition which lead to his demise. But what if there weren’t other complication? It is not that blood is needed only in crisis situations, but whenever most people hear of blood donation, it is usually preceded by the word “urgent”. Is blood required only in emergency situations? Can we keep a large store of blood, for such situations? Are blood banks doing this currently? These are some of the questions that need to be answered as we continue on this journey.
We found that the major problem wasn’t that people don’t donate blood, but that after donating once, they don’t do it again. The percentage of repeat donors is low. How do we get people to donate blood regularly (at least once in 6 months if it is a common blood group like A+)? One of the problems could be the myths surrounding blood donation. When we asked some people, we found that they had completely the wrong idea about blood donation. People thought that it would make them weak, it was bad for their health, and that they would get diseases from doing so. We had to find a way to bust these myths before getting people to donate blood.
Another problem we found was that people did not find the time or/and the money to go to the hospital, donate blood, take the required rest after donating, and then get back to office or college and resume their activities. We solved the money part of this problem in SureBlood by giving the person who requested for blood an option to pay for the donors’ travel. Since SureBlood is a map based portal, if time is a big factor for the donor, they can donate to the hospitals or blood banks which are closer.
The third problem, and possibly our biggest problem going forward, is to make donation a part of society or just something that people do without much thought – to make donation a part of people’s lives. This ultimately boils down to a major question in society. How do we change people’s behaviour? In our case it was more along the lines of – How do we motivate people to donate blood? How do we leverage the so called intrinsic and extrinsic motivators? This is a problem that we haven’t come close to solving, but with experience I think we can come close.