Chethan Gowda: Decreasing Blood Shortages in a Populous Country

Struck by the absurdity of dying from a blood shortage in a country of 1.2B people, Chethan, then 16, began connecting people around one of life's essential liquids.

When Chethan Gowda was a child in India, his favorite teacher died suddenly—not from a heart attack or car crash, but because of a national blood shortage.

Chethan was saddened and struck by the absurdity of dying from a blood shortage while living in a country of 1.2 billion people.

According to a 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) report, India should have 12 million pints of blood stockpiled annually and has a 3 million pint shortage. This is due to misinformation about donating and the decentralization of donation centers.

In May 2016, Chethan, now an Ashoka Youth Venturer, founded Khoon, a database solution that connects blood donors to receivers. The startup also tracks blood availability for the Red Cross, local blood banks, and hospitals. To counter private blood banks that drastically increase the price of blood, Khoon monitors the price and drives awareness campaigns on the government-sanctioned price.; Khoon also holds local blood camps encouraging people to “shed the red for a good cause.”

During 2017-18, Khoon’s youth-driven engagement--including live music events, street plays and catchy campaigns--led to life-saving interactions with nearly 50,000 individuals as it expanded across all major Indian cities. Later this year, they will scale internationally to both South Korea and Greece.

Not all superheros wear capes or fly through the air. In fact, they can be found right here in our community — ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances and making lives better for others. Teenager Chethan fits the bill.
- New Indian Express

Part of Khoon’s expansion includes the development of an app, slated to launch on June 14th, World Blood Donor Day. As Chethan explains, most blood donating apps only focus on the recipient, but his app will also  support the donor. When someone is in need of blood, the app will immediately alert potential donors within a 10 kilometer radius. Depending on the needs of the donor, a car and food may also be provided all through the app.

While more than 50% of blood is donated in countries with only 19% of the population, acute shortages remain. Yet, according to Chethan, “if only 1-2% of youth start donating regularly, this shortage [in India] can be eradicated.” So Khoon continues expanding its work and is collaborating with major partners, including Facebook and Harley Davidson, to reduce this shortage and achieve Chethan and Khoon’s mission: “to ensure that nobody dies for the want of something that is abundant in everyone’s body.”