The Long Journey To Indore

On 17-11-2012 at 10:33 AM Sankalp got a call informing about a girl from Indore who was detected to have the Bombay Blood Group. Her hemoglobin was reported to be 1.4 gm/dl after having delivered a still baby. The doctors wanted 3-4 units of blood to be sent to Indore immediately. While the organisation explored all the options, another news was in the making. Bal Thackerey died in Mumbai.

Since July 2012, the rare event of someone requiring the Bombay Blood Group has become extremely routine. With 2-3 blood request for Bombay Blood Group coming in every week, every option to organise for Bombay Blood Group has been explored aggressively. Most of the willing donors had already donated blood to save the numerous lives. When it came to Bangalore, patients who needed Bombay Blood Group were waiting without units in sight. However, the message from the doctors was loud and clear - a life was hanging by the thread.

After a few hours of extensive work, almost all probable donors had been spoken to three major options were narrowed down upon:

  • Ranchi: 1 donor available to donate
  • Mumbai: Several donors available to donate
  • Bangalore/Hyderabad: If everything that was being arranged for other patients if diverted: 2 units

The problem however was with the place - Indore. From blood bank to blood bank with what we know, we can safely transport the unit within 12 hours. Not every Airline agrees for transportation. The family was from laborer class and hence not afford the transportation. And most fo all, the location of Indore puts it in flight schedules that just wont allow transportation within 12 hours if the unit got air lifted from either Hyderabad or Kolkata. The only option was Mumbai!

While the rest of India had seen many donations from Bombay blood group donors in the last few months, Mumbai turned out to be a city where several regular donors had just become eligible. With Think Foundation working there, for us the story was simple. It was best for Think Foundation to get couple of units donated in Mumbai and get them transported to Indore by air. However, another situation was unfolding on the streets of Mumbai. The death of the leader of Shiv Sena had put the city into a situation that no civilian wanted to step out of their house. After all kind of assessment, it was clear that nothing could be done from Mumbai for the next few days!

The clock was ticking fast. With the hemoglobin level falling the panic button was hard pressed. The team put the heads together to redo the math and see how to get the units to Indore. After drilling into flight schedules, one flight showed some rays of hope. One of the airlines had a weekly flight a day later which would go straight from Bangalore to Indore. That was the only chance. The problems however were not over yet. It took a fair amount of effort from Mr Vinay Shetty of Think Foundation to convince the airline to transport the unit; something they would not do normally.

The day long wait seemed too long. Anything could happen. The units were prepared. The whole night of 20th November 2012 was one of action for one of our volunteers. Finally as the morning sun rose. The flight lifted from BIAL carrying first relief for the lady who was battling to survive. Mr Ashok, from Indore who was trying to help the family received the units. Over next 2 days, things normalised in Mumbai and Think Foundation got the window to be able to send more units.

In one of the calls the doctor reported that the lady's hemoglobin had increased to 4 gm/dl. She had started walking around. While we struggled to find units for the patient whose units were sent over to her, the volunteers had their chance for a smile - at least for that moment.

A few hours later, we checked upon the family to know if more units were required. We were told that the patient was forcibly discharged by her in-laws once she showed signs of recovery. They were upset upon the birth of a still born child! They did not feel that any more treatment was needed. In shock the volunteers exchanged this news. And then.. a few moments later, they moved on.. in silence..

We must express our sincere gratitude to the mothers of the donors, the airline staff, doctors and other people from Indore, Mr Vinay Shetty, Rashtrotthana Blood bank staff and everyone else involved. We have pretty fine set of people to work alongside in the common quest to save lives.

Sankalp Unit