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Imagine being in a situation where you need a blood transfusion, only to find out that the blood bank didn’t have enough stock of the type of blood you need.

These days, people go to social media like Facebook when they need speciality blood, or when they are running blood donation drives. 

However, the speed of information outreach is not fast enough and by the time it reaches the people who are able and willing to donate, it may be outdated. 

In this, Jarod Law saw the need for a more efficient and effective communication channel to connect blood donors with people in need of their services.

The Search For Specialty Blood

That’s why he engineered BloodGo, a non-profit pro-bono project under ERUFU Care, which functions as a real-time blood request and donation network in Malaysia. 

BloodGo works as a middleman to notify blood donors of blood donation drives happening in a location within their selected range.

This provides more pin-pointed accuracy, increasing the efficiency of the process.

Screenshot of the list of blood drives happening near me / Image Credit: BloodGo

Blood drive organisers can also use this software to post their events for those registered to come forward and donate their blood.

Upon reaching BloodGo’s homepage, you’ll be greeted with 3 functions:

  • Register as a blood donor,
  • Submit a blood request (whether for yourself or someone you know who’s in need of a transfusion),
  • Post a donation event.

Jarod described the process of getting started on BloodGo: “Verify your mobile number like a banking TAC code. Then the system will guide you to fill up the particulars depending on your selection. There is no username or password required, just submit and you’re done.”

He also clarified that their platform is only meant to be a place for donors and people-in-need to connect, as well as to be notified of ongoing blood drives in their area. 

Examples of people in need of transfusions are those undergoing major surgery, patients of accidents like car crashes, and people suffering from illnesses that cause anaemia, such as leukaemia or kidney disease.

Dramas and movies have played a role in misleading people to think that direct transfusions, where blood is donated and immediately given to a patient, actually happen in real-life emergencies.

On the contrary, Jarod said, “Direct transfusions are forbidden and all blood donations need to be screened before transfusion.”

“So, emergency cases are basically being handled by national and state blood banks, just that they have to quickly find donors to put the stock back to a healthy level.”

This is where BloodGo comes in handy, as they’re able to connect the blood banks to donors with the sought-after blood.

A Special Red Sea

Some speciality blood types that BloodGo is able to help source include “panda blood” and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) negative blood.

“But those are generally very rare blood types that the blood banks are already monitoring,” Jarod added.

Dictionary time: “Panda blood” is an Rh-negative blood type in China, which, as the phrase suggests, is “as rare as pandas”.

CMV is a flu-like virus that most adults are exposed to at some point in their lives, which makes CMV negative blood rare. Once someone has had CMV, their body retains the antibodies. Babies needing transfusions mostly make up the highest demand for CMV negative blood.

Zhejiang University and Red Cross Blood
What a speciality blood request looks on the site / Image Credit: BloodGo

In Malaysia, O is the most common blood type, followed by A and B, with the rarest being AB blood type. As O blood is the most commonly transfused blood, it’s always needed.

Currently, BloodGo has 11 requests for speciality blood, and 2,420 registered donors since launching in November 2017. 

He shared that to reach these numbers, the community was mostly built through word of mouth and attention from the media.

Some of these efforts included Jarod himself being invited to speak at the UPM medical faculty, TEDx, and a few radio stations, often in Mandarin.

Jarod speaking at TEDx / Image Credit: BloodGo

Sponsored By Many, Free For Users

To date, the BloodGo Global Community has sent out over 420,000 notifications of 1,452 blood drives happening in 811 locations around Malaysia.

Jarod told us that these numbers are automated and published on their homepage which is updated daily.

Screenshot of BloodGo’s Global Community / Image Credit: BloodGo

To get this non-profit to a point that requires little to no human operation, approximately 2 months of manpower worth about RM160,000 was invested.

This capital covered the costs ranging from system engineers, coordinators, writers, designers, and more.

Some of their sponsors include Code S, for software and hardware research development, Google Firebase, for system authentication, cloud messaging and notification sponsorship, as well as Appxplore, a mobile game development studio that promotes BloodGo in their in-game app.

Sharing at corporate session in the Appxplore office, MidValley / Image Credit: BloodGo

Despite its sponsors, the platform is always still in need of volunteers to be the ones running on-the-ground blood drives, spreading awareness of the non-profit as well as submitting blood donation event details into the system.

Nonetheless, Jarod also hopes that more corporations and companies would be able to lend a hand to this project.

“No actual money is needed actually, it can be as simple as helping to let more people know about BloodGo and its functions,” he clarified.

“There are many ways, can be as simple as adding a footer banner to a corporate newsletter, or any form of channel.”

Aside from reducing the lead time for a speciality blood request to find a donor, BloodGo also wants to increase the number of blood donors in Malaysia by > 2.5%, and focus on educating the younger generation in these matters.

  • You can learn more about BloodGo here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Feature Image Credit: BloodGo

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)