While Americans often gleefully sport “I Gave Blood” stickers while chowing down on free cookies, donating blood in many countries, like China and India, is often seen as dangerous, unclean, or both. This stigma means there are chronic shortages of blood in many countries and patients are often unable to receive transfusions.
If donors knew who their blood was helping, would more people step forward? Karthik Naralasetty, a 22-year-old who left Rutgers University to start Redcode Informatics in Bangalore, thought the power of social media could help erase some of these taboos by making a human connection through blood donations.
“For my generation, Facebook is the most powerful thing on the planet,” Naralasetty told All Things D. “India is a country where 50% of the Internet population is on Facebook every other day, so I saw potential to reach them directly and make it fun and easy to act.”
The resulting Facebook hack, Socialblood, has created a social space for thousands of potential blood donors–and recipients–to meet and potentially donate. Naralasetty recently won the Staples/Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneur competition for the site.
The online platform is still simple (and limited): users register by joining one of eight groups in their blood type. Friends are invited to join campaigns, post messages in emergencies or respond to blood donation requests. Their Facebook messages let them know of any appeals.
Now Socialblood is on a mission to connect the entire Facebook population of over 850 million users to their blood types for medical emergencies. As an independent website linked to Facebook, its new functionality includes maps of donors and blood centers, as well as connections across more than a dozen countries.