The messiah of Vasai

Updated: Feb 09, 2020, 07:35 IST | Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

What else do you call the man who ensures life-saving blood supply to the needy

Prabhakar Wagle was hospitalised at KEM Hospital for burns 16 years ago. Pic/Hanif Patel
Prabhakar Wagle was hospitalised at KEM Hospital for burns 16 years ago. Pic/Hanif Patel

For Vasai resident Prabhakar Wagle, a personal experience opened his eyes to how the healthcare system is tilted against those who are financially disadvantaged.

"Sixteen years ago, my hand got burnt in an accident. My family first admitted me to a local hospital [in Vasai], but I had to be shifted to Parel's KEM." At KEM, says Wagle, an auto driver by profession, the doctor treating him asked the family to arrange for extra blood. For this, they had to borrow R2,100 from friends and relatives to buy three litres of blood from a local blood bank. Today, the same amount of blood would cost R6,000.

"It made me realise the position that the poor find themselves in during medical emergencies. Family members have to knock on door after door to save the lives of their loved ones. From that day on, I was determined to provide free blood to needy patients." It's a promise that Wagle has kept.

Jyoti Ashok Kadu, 47, local panchayat member, says the team also tracks social media to extend their reach
Jyoti Ashok Kadu, 47, local panchayat member, says the team also tracks social media to extend their reach

For the last 12 years, the 45-year-old, has not just donated blood regularly, but also organised blood donation camps in his neighbourhood, especially for rare blood groups that are more difficult to source. A message on his vehicle asks those who need blood to contact him for help, which will come at no cost. "I spoke to friends, autorickshaw drivers, village residents and local groups, all of whom assured help. Initially, we helped others organise camps, but for the last four years, we have been conducting camps ourselves."

Among the many patients that Wagle has helped, is 17-year-old Samit Pawar, a Thalassemia major. Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin and results in excessive destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anaemia. A patient needs nearly three units of blood every month to stay alive. Pawar's father, a Grade IV employee at the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation, has a monthly salary of R12,000, which isn't enough to cover the treatment cost and run the family. "After Wagle mama learnt of my illness, he has been regularly helping me source blood. It has reduced the cost of my treatment. My family is working with mama to help others as well," says Pawar, a student of arts at St Joseph College, Virar.

Wagle has organised 22 blood donation camps so far. "I have also organised donation for those with rare blood groups [O+, O-, B-, AB-] which are not available at most blood banks. I know dozens of people whose blood type belongs to these rare groups and I have their contacts saved on my phone," he adds.

Wagle takes care of not just the patients, but also the donors, regularly collecting money for them. "I keep aside a part of my daily income to buy fruits and nutritious food items for those who donate at our blood camps."

Jyoti Ashok Kadu, 47, local panchayat member, who is a part of Wagle's initiative, says the team doesn't just wait to be contacted by those in help. "We also keep a track of social media to find those who may need our help. It's Wagle's dedication that keeps us inspired."

13 mn
Total units of blood India wants for its blood transfusion needs. But only 11.1 mn units were collected in 2016-17.

Need help with blood or want to donate?
Call Prabhakar Wagle on 9271939554

Blood banks to call

. Vijayee Blood Bank, Vasai West: 9320333703
. Sarla Blood Bank, opposite Vasai station Vasai West: 9320333702
. Balaji Blood Bank, Malad East: 28412451
. Holy Spirit Hospital, Andheri East: 28378822
. Jaslok Hospital Blood Bank: 24939595
. KJ Somaya Blood Bank, Sion: 24090253
. Nanavati Hospital, Vile Parle West: 26182262
. Dr RN Cooper Hospital, Juhu: 26207254
. Dr Mallika HospitalBlood Bank, opposite Delhi Darbar Hotel: 9867777409
. Mira Bhayandar Muncipal Corporation Blood Bank Trust: 9195224480

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