Hindus of Greater Houston Hold Successful Blood Drive at Arya Samaj

Gayatri Kapoor {lrft) and Neena Naik volunteered and gave blood.

High school student Ayushi Sapre also gave blood.


HOUSTON: On May 31st, Hindus of Greater Houston’s COVID-19 relief efforts extended beyond multiple food drives, PPE donations and raising funds. The organization, in partnership with Arya Samaj Houston and the Gulf Coast Blood Center, organized its first blood drive for the blood bank whose supplies were being stretched thin.
One of Houston’s top cardiologists, Dr. Randeep Suneja was the first to donate blood. Ayushi Sapru, a high schooler who had come to volunteer, was so inspired by the donors that she ended up donating blood too. Three members of a Jain family took their turns as well. In all, 33 members of the community showed up out of which 13 were eligible, three gave RBC’s and three donated plasma. Others such as those who had travelled to India in the last one year, could not donate. Considering the present circumstances, community leader Vijay Pallod described the turnout as “pretty good.”
The idea of a blood drive was first pitched by Dev Mahajan, HGH Chairman and a Trustee of Arya Samaj Houston. Community members like Heena Naik, Sanjay Jain, Vijay Pallod and Gayatri Kapoor quickly warmed to the idea and began to spread the word. The initial response was not very encouraging and even until ten days before the blood drive, only 11 people had signed up. Undeterred, the team accelerated their efforts to reach out to multiple organizations in the city urging people to register. These efforts paid off as 38 people volunteered. The blood drive was scheduled from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm with 15 minute slots to minimize waiting periods. All precautionary measures were taken to reduce the risk of COVID -19 infection.
Gayatri Kapoor, the heart and soul behind “Be the Match” – the bone marrow donation program in Houston is vocal about the need for Indo Americans to turn out in greater numbers to donate blood. Thalassemia and other blood cancers, she pointed out, are conditions that require blood transfusions every 2-3 weeks and an Indo American needing a blood transfer has a greater chance of finding a match within his own ethnic community.
Heena Naik is a Training Specialist at “The Blood Center.” Inspired by the thought that “Giving blood is giving life to someone in need,” she was one of the first to register and donate. Sharing a similar message, she also encouraged Indo Americans to step up “during these critical times because there are many patients’ whose lives are dependent on blood donations.”
Ayushi, who needed her parent’s permission to donate blood as she is under 18, had originally signed up to be a volunteer at the “Be The Match” booth representing the U&I non-profit organization. But seeing the incredible turnout of donors of all different ages, she said she “was inspired to donate blood as well. Knowing that my donation could potentially be used to alleviate someone’s medical condition or even save a life, I feel that my decision was definitely a memorable one.”
Building on this success, HGH’s Chairman Dev Mahajan announced that the organization would organize a blood drive twice a year and the next one will be in collaboration with Vallabh Priti Seva Samaj of Houston (VPSS). He further added that this blood drive not only “sends a positive and powerful message about Vedic Hindu values but also offers an opportunity to work together for a noble cause and do seva.”