World Blood Donor Day: This Delhi man walked 13,400 km across India in 17 months urging people to donate blood

09:44 AM Jun 14, 2023 | PTI |

This is the second World Blood Donor Day on the road for activist Kiran Verma. This year, Verma, with a placard on hand that urges people to donate blood, is on his way to Siliguri, West Bengal’s picturesque gem nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, from Malda.


His aim is to walk 21,000 kilometres to create more awareness about blood donation.

”We cannot be complacent about this. Everyday more than 12,000 people fail to get blood in India due to which more than three million people died. During the second wave of Covid, this reality hit home even harder as almost every person went through plasma crisis. This fear to donate blood must be tackled immediately,” Verma said over the phone from a highway dhaba en route Siliguri, where he halted for dinner.

Verma said he decided to dedicate a couple of years of his life to reset the idea that Indians do not have a culture of donating blood.


He began his current journey on December 28, 2021 in Thiruvananthapuram. In 2018 too, Verma travelled 16,000 km across India, covering more than 6,000 km on foot, to get people to donate blood.

”India needs 15 million units of blood annually, according to 2017 government data. There is no official data after that. It also states that annually, India manages to get 10-11 million units of blood. So, here I am walking, hoping to catch the attention of that 5 million people who will make a huge difference between life and death,” said Verma.

His story goes thus: On December 2016, Verma donated blood after being told that a poor family from Raipur was in dire need of it. After donating blood, he went to meet the family and got to know that the person who called him took Rs 1,500 for the blood that he donated for free.

”I was gutted. I could not forget how desperate that family was. So, I started Simply Blood. My aim is simple: nobody should die because of lack of blood in India,” Verma added.

According to Verma, Simply Blood, a virtual blood donation platform that connects blood donors and seekers real time without charging anyone, was launched on January 29, 2017, and it has saved more than 35,000 potential lives through blood donation so far.

But Covid bought its own set of complications, said Verma. ”Voluntary blood donation in India has gone significantly down in the last three years. So, I decided to do go on a walk to get the attention of people,” he added.

Renewing his efforts all over again to meet the deadline to his mission, Verma said by December 31, 2025, he hopes to have convinced enough people so that India could have all the blood it needs.

This time he decided to cover the length and breath of the country and all on foot.

”Till now, I have walked more than 13,400 km across 176 districts, 12 states and UTs, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Dadra Nagar and Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal in 17 months,” he said.

Verma added that the only time he took a break from walking, for almost a month, was to visit countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh, where he was invited to talk about his efforts to promote blood donation.

In India, his strategy is simple. Walk to a place where people come in droves, like landmarks and temples, and stand there with the placard until he gets their attention. ”My biggest moment was in 2020 in Ahmedabad, during the last IPL cricket match. I could target lakhs of people at a time,” said Verma.

His ploy worked, not only was he given wide publicity by the media, 107 blood donation camps have been organised in different parts of the country through which more than 22,640 units of blood have been collected so far.

”To support this campaign, more than 7,000 individual donors have donated blood so far. I don’t stop at encouraging common man. I also make it a point to meet the collectors and other district administrators so that there is also state support to the effort. This is important. You see, on September 15, 2022, I had inaugurated a blood bank in Hyderabad dedicated to former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao. His family members got together and instituted the blood bank. This kind of support too is very important for the cause,” said Verma.

Personally, Verma is thankful for the support his family extends to him. ”If you look at it, it is crazy. I left everything to my wife and just took off. But she stood by me. My son had it tough initially, but he too now got used to it. They come join me whenever they can,” he added.

But mostly it is just him. With a bag on his shoulders that contain bare minimum to survive, halting at wherever he could find place, sometimes even cemeteries, for the night, eating whatever he could find on the way. ”Yes, at times I miss home cooked meal so much. It’s a luxury when you are on a journey like this. But I will do this all over again. This has opened my world view so much. I had no clue that India would be this different and at the same time connected at heart. Our country is very beautiful. I fell in love with it, with its people, with its landmarks,” said Verma.

Verma said his path almost crossed the other walk that was making news — the Bharat Jodo Yatra. ”Our paths almost intersected near Nagarkurnool in Telangana. But I deliberately chose to walk a different route. I like to stay out of political and religious affiliations,” added Verma.

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated every year by people around the world on June 14, which marks the birth anniversary of late biologist Karl Landsteiner. He was awarded the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the ABO blood group system.


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