26th June 2024  Bangalore, Karnataka, India  WHO is celebrating World Blood Donor Day on June 14th with a theme – “20 years of celebrating giving: thank you, blood donors”. However, India pioneered this initiative 70 years ago in 1954 by Mrs. Leela Moolgaokar, Padma Shri receipt for her commendable work in Voluntary Blood Donation. Rotary Bangalore TTK Blood Centre proudly recognizes “70 years of celebrating giving: thank you, blood donors!”

The first records of voluntary blood donation initiatives in India can be traced back to 1942, during the time of World War II when the first blood bank was established in Kolkata, West Bengal to take care the blood needs of those injured in the battlefield. Employees Government and industrial houses volunteered to donate blood for this humanitarian cause. But this enthusiasm waned once the war ended.

A decade passed by till Mrs. Leela Moolgaokar, a renowned social worker, and one of the pioneers in voluntary blood transfusion, initiated a blood donation drive in Bombay (now Mumbai), inspired by her son’s injuries, from 1954 onwards. For her work in voluntary blood transfusion services in India, she was awarded the Padma Shri in 1963.

The 1960s showed expanding efforts — Kolkata (Jadavpur University), Ahmedabad and Delhi (Red Cross Societies) and Chandigarh (Blood Bank, PGI along with a group of voluntary social workers, Blood Bank Society).

In 1971, Prof. J.G. Jolly, a physician and professor of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, took up the movement to further heights by spearheading the movement against professional blood donors. Motivated by this, Ms. Kanta Sarup Krishen along with like-minded friends established the Blood Bank Society Chandigarh (BBS) and worked for the cause of voluntary blood donation. She was also the founder and secretary general of the Indian Society of Blood Transfusion and Immunohematology (ISBTI), a post she held for 45 years.

In 1973, Dr. Shanthi Ranganathan, today is known more for her work in the area of de-addiction, started Madras Voluntary Blood Bank to mobilize voluntary blood donation to support the blood needs of Government Hospitals in Chennai.