Heartwarming pictures and videos have emerged, showing people queuing up outside blood banks in hospitals in Kozhikode, despite heavy rains and the COVID-19 threat.

People queue up to donate blood for treatment of survivors of the Kozhikode air crash
news Air crash Saturday, August 08, 2020 - 12:17

“I don’t know any of them personally. But I know for a fact that they're all people with a good heart,” an emotional Linsith Lal tells TNM on Saturday morning. A native of Nadakkavu, in Kozhikode district of Kerala, Linsith was speaking about the people who came to donate blood at the Baby Memorial Hospital, late on Friday night. He was also one among them.

August 7, 2020 (Friday) will be a day that the people of Kerala would want to forget - beginning with the news of a landslide in Idukki district which led to the death of 18 people and then the air crash.

More than 12 hours after the Air India Express flight from Dubai to Kozhikode crashed on landing at the Kozhikode International Airport on Friday night, hospitals in Kozhikode and Malappuram are struggling to ensure that all injured passengers recieve the best treatment. One big requirement was for blood, especially the rare groups. District Collectors, hospitals and local blood banks issued many requests asking people to donate blood. And people did not disappoint them.

Close to Friday midnight, heartwarming pictures and videos of people queuing up outside blood banks in various hospitals in Kozhikode, despite heavy rains and the Covid-19 threat, started showing up on social media.

Dr Sajitha, the head of the Blood Bank in Baby Memorial Hospital tells TNM that the stock at the blood bank was not sufficient due to the lack of patients during the Covid lockdown. “On hearing the news of the accident, we had immediately informed the Blood Donor Organisation about the need for donors with blood specifications and the message was quickly shared on social media,” says Sajitha. 

She said that for emergency cases, they usually give O-ve Packed Red Cells (PRC) and AB+ve PRC. Immediately after the request for donors was put out, the hospital started receiving phone calls, not just from people of Kozhikode, but also from neighbouring districts of Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur, informing their willingness to donate blood. “At that time, apart from the fact that we knew we would be needing blood, we didn’t know how much we would be needing as not many passengers had arrived by then. So to many of the callers, we had told them we would revert to them if needed,” adds Dr Sajitha. 

Around 10 pm, blood donors began to arrive at the Baby Memorial Hospital, one after the other and Sajitha stated that this inflow of donors continued till about 2 am on Saturday. “It was raining. This didn’t stop people from coming in. They had followed all Covid-19 protocols and waited patiently by maintaining proper physical distancing,” she added. 

The situation was more or less the same in other hospitals in the district. Anandu, an official at the Aster MIMS hospital, said that they had collected blood from more than 40 donors. “The inflow of donors began at around 11 pm on Friday and continued till about 3 am on Saturday. The process took more time than usual as not more than 5 donors were allowed in due to covid protocols. But everyone cooperated and waited patiently,” he added. 

One of the reasons for this major inflow of donors, according to Linsith, was that people were badly affected by the visuals they had been watching on news channels since morning, first of the landslide, then the crash. "We wanted to do something to help people. While waiting to donate blood, all we had in our minds were the visuals of the tragic accident. It didn’t matter to us that it was late in the night or whether it was raining,” he says. 

He went on to point out that none of the people who came to donate blood came as part of any political group or NGO’s. “They were all just common citizens like me, who rushed out at the time of need, to donate blood.”

Dr Sajitha stated that they have not used up all the blood yet. “We have cross matched the blood with some of the injured patients, who will be later needing it during their elective surgeries (surgeries are done after the patient is stabilised)," she added.

The Air India Express flight from Dubai was part of the Vande Bharat Mission series to repatriate Indians stranded abroad during COVID-19.

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