One afternoon in 2014 Brian Rono received a call that his close friend was in hospital and was in dire need of blood.
He was 17 years of age and so he was not eligible to donate blood but seeing that his friend was going to lose his life, he had no choice but donate.
Even after donating blood, it was not enough and his family members had to drive all the way to intervene in the situation.
Fast-forward to 2016 after joining college at the Technical University of Mombasa, he interacted with several students who shared different sad stories of finding it difficult in getting blood while in hospital.
“Some stories were so sad in that people lost family members because they could not get enough blood for transfusion when at the hospital,” the 22-year-old mechanical engineering student said.
Sharing similar story, the students came together in February 2019 and formed a community-based organisation called RedSplash with an aim of holding blood donation drives in order to save lives of people who need it during critical conditions like road accidents.
On the valentine’s day 2019, the group celebrated by donating blood which was sent to the national blood bank in Makadara, Mombasa.
The Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) website places the annual blood demand nationwide at 500,000 units with its 27 donation centres countrywide rising about 164,275 units annually for an estimated 200,000 recipients.
However, the country needs 1,000,000 blood bags annually to be on the safer side.
With the dynamic age of technology, the team that consists of students aged 18-25 came up with a mobile application named RedSplash. Once you register and log in to the application, you get a notification on the latest medical appeals for blood donation.
Also the type and amount of blood needed by the patient is indicated, the hospital they are in is also highlighted and their phone number too.
Also, a share button is placed in each appeal to enable the message to be disbursed to various social media platforms.
“The app also shows a due donor and it also rates if the donor is willing to donate blood (this applies to a regular donor),” Mr Rono noted.
The application also has a blog that talks on health and fitness topics while creating the importance of donating blood.
A donor also gets thank you notes through an SMS once their blood has been used to save a life. Also, it reminds the regular donors to donate blood sometimes later after the previous donation.
Mr Rono says more than half a million was spent on the app which was launched three weeks ago.
Currently, the app which is already active in a play store has more than 1500 downloads.
“Many people still believe that we cannot share blood if we are not related but that is wrong. Majorly, Kenyans are always united to donate blood during emergencies such as major accidents or terror attacks. Mostly it is circumstancial , not voluntarily,” he said adding that their app campaigns for voluntary blood donation. Kenya has a shortage of blood in the blood bank forcing some patients to spent more than Sh40,000 for a blood transfusion.