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Think Foundation is about blood, the key to our survival, and blood-related ailments, Alekh Angre reports
Ironically enough, Think Foundation is not about thought, except that campaigning and coordination for blood donation is born out of good thoughts. Think Foundation is about blood, the key to our survival, and blood-related ailments. Only those who have desperately tried to find blood during emergencies, or have been harried about finding donors to match rare blood groups know the time and effort involved. Many a time, finding blood banks is difficult enough and they may be unable to meet a patient’s need. It is as an answer to these issues that Think Foundation was set up in 2006 as a not-for-profit organisation.
In 1980, Vinay Shetty, then a student (now vice president at Think Foundation), conducted a blood donation drive for Mumbai-based Nair Hospital. The drive was a great success, but Vinay’s real aim was to start and maintain the list of donors. Soon, he started receiving calls inquiring about donors with particular blood groups. “We (he and a few friends) responded to the calls, identified donors and sent them to hospitals which had specific requirements,” he says.
As the calls increased, Mr Shetty and his friends became regular visitors at various hospitals, coordinating and arranging the blood requirements. In 1998, Breach Candy Hospital contacted him to inquire about their work and urged his group to also spread awareness on thalassaemia.
After reading and meeting people working with thalassaemia patients, he decided to pitch in with some specific activities. It started with the formation of charitable trust ‘Citizen’ along with his six friends. Its mission was to give a thrust to promoting blood donation and creating awareness about thalassaemia. With donations trickling in from individuals, its activities grew. In 2006, Citizen was renamed Think Foundation after registering it under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.
The Foundation conducted around 300 blood donation drives in colleges and companies in 2011 and worked at encouraging voluntary blood donation. It works closely with about 60 blood banks in Mumbai and is apparently the only organisation to have donors with the rare ‘Bombay blood group’. “I can guarantee that people who need this blood group anywhere in the country, will eventually come to us,” says Mr Shetty.
For thalassaemia patients, Think Foundation conducts screening camps for college students (as part of its prevention drive) and counselling for those detected with thalassaemia minor. Mr Shetty says, “Anybody with thalassaemia minor is perfectly healthy. A child is born with thalassaemia major when both his parents are thalassaemia minor. So it is essential for people to get themselves tested. It will help to stop thalassaemia. It will also help blood banks, as most of the blood is used for kids with thalassaemia major.” Last year, Think Foundation conducted 150 screening camps. It also runs seven day-care centres across the city where thalassaemia major children are provided with blood transfusion facility, along with iron chelation tablets, essential for the treatment, free of cost.
Think Foundation runs a Lifesavers’ Club, which has a list of platelet donors and coordinates with them as well as blood banks whenever there is a request for platelets. The organisation campaigns actively about stem cell therapy and wants to ensure that India has a functional stem-cell registry. Mr Shetty believes that stem-cell therapy is a solution for thalassaemia as well as leukaemia and other blood disorders.
Think Foundation also provides educational support to needy children and financial help on a case-by-case basis. Currently, it receives funding from individuals as well as corporate houses. You can volunteer for the various activities conducted by Think Foundation, apart from making financial donations which are exempted under Section 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.
A-101, Valmiki Apartments,
Sunder Nagar, Kalina, Santa Cruz (East),
Mumbai 400 098.
Contact- 91-22- 6518 1341/ 6518 1343
Email- [email protected]