A blood donation startup called Blooders has chalked up 2,800 donations in three years in a country where people usually donate only when a close relative or friend is in need.
Created in 2014 and operated by just eight people, Blooders is a digital blood donation platform that has signed up 9,500 people in the cities of Mexico, Monterrey, Puebla and Villahermosa.
A play on the words “blood” and “brothers,” Blooders streamlines the blood donation process, founder César Esquivel told the newspaper El Universal in an interview for World Blood Donor Day, June 14.
The service’s digital platform is comprised of a web page, a mobile app, presence on social media and a blog, connecting patients in need of transfusions with blood donation campaigns created digitally by hospitals with voluntary donors.
One big advantage of the app is that the scheduling process drastically reduces wait times from the usual four hours to just one.
“We want first-time donors to see how easy and simple the process is, and them have them come back regularly. We need to break the inertia of donating only when someone is in dire need,” said Esquivel.
” . . . Be it in a public or a private hospital, donations take too long. Imagine going for the first time and spending three or four hours, would you go back? Chances are slim; if, on the other hand, you spend less than an hour, that is a period of time you can dedicate to it . . . and then start scheduling periodic visits.”
The service is as streamlined as can be, explained Esquivel: “You sign up, schedule an appointment, check the requirements and fill out a form before you are sent to one of the hospitals we have an agreement with.”
The service sends out emails reminding donors of their appointment, with notifications four hours and again one hour before the scheduled time.
The young entrepreneur says hospitals have not been successful in encouraging blood donations by the public.
Esquivel described the process as “donating your time and a part of yourself . . . In the end you’re saving lives.”
The Blooders service is currently available in 27 hospitals: 16 in Monterrey, nine in Mexico City and one each in Puebla and Villahermosa, but Esquivel has plans to expand, and hopes to be in 10 states by the end of the year.
In an interview with VICE News, he related some of the challenges facing campaigns to encourage the donation of blood. One is that people with tattoos cannot donate. They can but they must wait for a year after getting the tattoo, Esquivel explained, and the same goes for piercings.
Some think it will make you fat while others believe that woman cannot give blood while menstruating, both of which are completely false, he said.
Esquivel described a Blooder as someone who gives blood at least twice a year and promotes the practice among friends. Men can donate up to four times a year, women three, and anyone aged 18 to 65 can donate, he said.
If people begin donating blood in an altruistic manner and not just in a directed campaign, Esquivel said, there will always be blood available and the arduous search for blood supplies can be avoided at times of need.
Registration information and the app can be found at the Blooders website.