Animal Bloodline, started by Hyderabad-based electrical engineer Shiva Kumar Varma, is an NGO that aims to save the lives of animals that need blood transfusions by providing a nationwide list of animals registered as blood donors.
And what is even better is that the NGO provides this service for free.
To know how Shiva came up with this extraordinary idea, we need to delve into his childhood.
The young Shiva had the habit of rescuing injured animals he found on the streets and taking them to a veterinary hospital. Once treated, he would drop the animals near the same place he picked them up from.
One such incident where he rescued a severely injured dog changed things for Shiva.
“The dog had been in a road accident and needed more than 30-35 stitches,” he recalls. “The operation was successful but because of heavy bleeding, and our inability to find blood, the dog expired after two days.”
This incident affected him so much that he started researching about potential animal blood donors and where such services are provided. “To my surprise, I found out that 99.9 per cent of pet parents don’t even know their pet’s blood group,” he shares.
Did you know that cats have blood groups A, B, and AB while dogs have more than seven blood groups like DEA 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and DEA 4 (the universal donor)? According to their website, dogs can donate blood every three months and cats can donate four times a year.
Shiva had always been an active animal welfare activist and used to get around 20 calls a year from pet parents asking about blood donation for animals.
“There are hardly one or two animal blood banks in the country. Imagine a situation where there are no blood banks!” he says. Shiva travelled across the country talking to pet owners, activists, and doctors to understand the situation. Wherever he visited – Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, or Kolkata, he found that there was a complete lack of awareness about animals as blood donors. In fact, people were unaware that animals could donate blood or required transfusions.
Vets in cities with no blood banks told him that there was no hope even if some injured animals could be saved, because there was no way to procure the blood required.
Additionally, the only donor-lists he could find were informal ones that were circulated on WhatsApp groups of animal welfare activists in different cities.
This led to a brainwave – why not have a website with a list of animal donors across the country?
Picture for representation only. Source: Unsplash
And thus, Animal Bloodline was born on World Blood Donor Day, 14 June 2019, with the purpose of collecting details of animal blood donors across India.
How does their website work?
Pet parents register their name and contact details along with their pet’s name, blood group and other details. Once they register, they will appear in the donors’ list of that particular city. If your pet requires a blood transfusion, head to their website – you will find the contact details of a list of donors that you can reach out to.
The website also includes some helpful features – for example, once a pet has donated blood, their details will be hidden for three months. Additionally, once dogs reach the age of eight, the website hides their details because they cannot donate blood anymore.
Animal Bloodline provides a bridge between the donor animals and animals in need of blood. But their biggest challenge is to reach every pet owner and veterinary doctor across the country to spread awareness — animal lives will only be saved if the number of donor registrations increases.
“In India, during medical emergencies, people don’t know where to go, who to approach, and how to find blood for their pets,” Shiva informs us. He added that even in cities where there are animal blood banks, the doctors are only able to save 20-30 per cent of pet lives.
Shiva is starting off by targeting metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad, to spread awareness amongst pet parents and veterinary doctors. They will then move on to smaller areas across India.
Animal bloodline is not involved with medical assessment but they help bridge the gap between blood donors and animals in need.
If you’re a pet parent, go ahead and register on Animal Bloodline. Time is critical in an emergency. Donating blood will cause no harm to your pet and you could be instrumental in saving many furry lives.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)