As far as wedding gift ideas go, a donation of blood is not a common fixture on the list.
However, this was the only gift requested by Rakesh Vaishnav for the weddings of his two sons, Arun and Alpesh, which took place recently in the Ramganjmandi town of Kota in Rajasthan.
Rakesh began to donate blood at the age of 19, having lost of a family member from complications owing to lack of blood. The grooms’ father has been donating blood regularly, as much as 24 times to date.
Rakesh seized the occasion of his sons’ weddings as an opportunity to encourage people to join the cause, and he organised for a blood donation camp to be set up at the wedding venue. The wedding invitations read, “Uphaar ho to aisa, raktdan jaisa” (no better gift than blood donation).
Whilst Rakesh hoped that guests would come forward to donate their blood, he made it clear that it was completely voluntary, and under no circumstances should guests feel obliged to donate blood.
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His request did inspire many attendees at the wedding to donate their blood, including his 21-year-old nephew Rahul Vaishnav and guest Saroj Sharma, who at aged 39 donated blood for the very first time. One member of the party told Hindustan Times that as much as 26 units of blood had been collected in one afternoon, and more was expected to be donated in the evening.
This wedding camp is not Rakesh’s only initiative. He has also worked on awareness campaigns, encouraging others to donate blood and assisting those in need of donation. “I started a group called ‘Raktdata Jeevandata Samooh’ in 2012. It is connected with voluntary blood donation organisations in nine states and provides blood to the needy people,” he said.
In India, as is the case for every country, medical centres and hospitals require blood daily in order to treat patients. Many surgical interventions involve blood transfusions, or the replenishment of blood to a person’s body.
Any person, who is healthy and not suffering from any transmittable diseases can become a donor, subject to fulfilling a few conditions set forth by the Indian Blood Bank Society. For instance, one must be between the ages of 18 and 60, weigh a minimum of 50 kg and have a minimum hemoglobin level; donors must wait at least three months between donations.
Having donated recently, Rakesh himself was unable to participate at the wedding camp. His efforts, past and present, have however inspired many others and their unique gift is sure to help the lives of many others.