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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
India's champion blood donor
Habib Beary
By Habib Beary
BBC News, Bangalore

Wedding guest at Blood Kumar's party donates blood
Most guests supported Blood Kumar's initiative
It was a strange sight for a wedding reception.

The newly married couple lying down in makeshift beds, donating blood.

For the 40-year-old bridegroom, such donations have become routine.

He is popularly known as Blood Kumar.

An employee of the Indian Space Research Organisation, which has its headquarters in Bangalore, Blood Kumar is the doyen of the local blood donor circuit.

'A mission'

He said that it seemed obvious to turn his wedding ceremony into a collective blood donor session.

Guests arriving with presents found themselves cajoled by Blood Kumar and his wife Mangalam to join the blood party, held at a corner of the wedding hall in a busy part of the city.

Blood Kumar {on the bed} watches his wife donate blood
Mangalam overcame her worries about the unusual wedding

Most of the 52 invitees ranging from film stars to high-powered businessmen - were supportive of the initiative.

"I don't think he is crazy. It is a mission for him. I thought this was a good opportunity to donate blood and encourage him to do what he is doing," said C Dinesh Kumar, an executive with a leading bank.

"I thought this was the best way to spread the message," said Blood Kumar, who braved opposition from his parents to link the reception with a blood donation session.

"Shedding blood on an occasion like a wedding is considered inauspicious," he explained.

"A lot of people think I am mad but I don't care what they say. I was determined that my wedding - our special day - would also be a blood donor's party."

Children dying

Blood Kumar said that his wife, who was a first-time donor, was initially nervous.

"She is getting to know me and is very supportive," said Blood Kumar with reassuring confidence.

The blood donation at his wedding is the 81st to be completed by him since his mission began when he saw many children dying in a circus fire in the 1980s.

"I went to the hospital and saw the need for blood to save lives. From then on I have not stopped," he said.

Wedding guests complete preliminary examinations before giving blood
Bangalore needs up to 600 bottles of blood a day for emergencies

Blood Kumar now makes sure that he is rarely more than a telephone call away during emergencies, and has even taken steps to update a blood donor directory that is a godsend to needy friends and strangers.

Local medics are also impressed.

"Blood camps are often considered insignificant events," said Manipal Hospital's Transfusion Services chief C Shivaram.

"But it is only when you link them with functions like weddings or birthdays that people stop and take notice.

"That is why we encourage blood donation camps, so that the message goes out in a big way."

Bangalore - with a population of over six million - needs 500 to 600 bottles of blood a day for emergencies.

Half the requirement is met by voluntary donors.

"But we need more to meet the shortage, because many lives can be saved in this way," said Mr Shivaram.

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