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On October 1, which is National Blood Donors day, Facebook will launch new tool to connect blood donors and blood banks with those seeking them, announced facebook in a press release.

There is a shortage of safe blood in India, and Facebook says sometimes patients and families needing blood will reach out on social media networks to locate donors. In an effort to address this, Facebook is introducing new features to help donors, patients, and hospitals connect more easily. These will include the option for nearby donors to be notified of blood requests.

Starting October 1, Facebook users in India will be able to start signing up to be blood donors. To help encourage participation, Facebook will show a message in News Feed or people can edit their Profiles to sign up. All information will remain private and set to “only me” by default, but people can choose to share their donor status on their timelines. This will first be available on Android and mobile web, as these are the most widely-used platforms in India.

Facebook blood donor

When individuals or organisations are in need of blood, they will be able to create a special interactive post requesting the same. Generating this post will notify donors in the area who can then contact the requester over Facebook, Messenger or on WhatsApp. As of December 2016, Facebook had 166 million monthly active users in India.

Moreover, over the time Facebook will roll out more tools in stages. If someone or a clinic needs blood, they can create a special post that includes information about where the blood is needed, contact information, and an option to identify the blood group required and an anecdote about the patient. When that request is posted, those nearby who have indicated they’re willing to donate blood will be sent a Facebook notification and given the option to respond through Messenger, WhatsApp, or a call. Donors’ details are kept private unless they choose to disclose it to the person in need of blood.

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According to Zuckerberg, Indian product developer Hema Budaraju’s own experience led to the development of this feature. “This issue is personal to Hema, whose father was diagnosed with cancer five years ago and lost so much blood during chemotherapy that he had to have a transfusion every day for a week,” Zuckerberg said in his status update.

In designing the new features, Facebook says it worked with non-profit organizations, health industry experts, potential donors, and those who have used Facebook to find blood donors.

People in India can go to facebook.com/donateblood to learn more and sign-up to be a blood donor.

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