Kashmir’s Shabir Hussain Khan is popularly known as the Blood man of Kashmir. Khan works as a daily wage labourer and is the biggest blood donor in the country. He has donated 174 pints of blood in the past 40 years of O negative, a blood group that is very rare.
“One cannot buy blood in the market. Donating blood is an act of humanity,” says Shabir Hussain Khan. The 60-year-old man is India’s biggest blood donor and has donated around 174 pints of blood since 1980. In the conflict-racked Kashmir valley, which is infamous for communal riots and violence, Khan’s story of selfless action restores hope and positivity.
How helping a friend made him a saviour to many
Shabir Khan resides in Srinagar, Kashmir, with his family of six, including his ailing mother, brother, sisters. His journey towards becoming the Blood Man started in July 1980. He recalls, “While I was taking my afternoon nap, I heard some noise outside of my house. A friend of mine was injured and lost a lot of blood.” In those days, arranging blood was a herculean task in the absence of social media, awareness, and blood banks. There were merely a couple of landline phones and radios for the connectivity. Khan walked on foot to the hospital to donate his blood and save his dear friend. Resolute to ensure that no lives are in danger for lack of blood. It’s been 41 years now that he has been saving lives with his O -ve blood, a group that is extremely rare to find. His persistence at it has earned him the title of the ‘Blood Man of Kashmir’. The Srinagar resident adds, “I didn’t start out with an intent to be called with this title. People gave me this name out of love and respect.”
The Biggest Blood Donor of India
Khan has travelled across the country to donate his blood. The first time he let the injection draw blood out of his body, he felt uncomfortable. However, after all these years, the process has become normal. He does not experience any pain or weakness. He is grateful to his upbringing and family’s support that guided him on the noble path. Khan observes the challenges and pain of people regularly that compels him to continue donating blood around six times a year. The love of people and goodwill far exceeds slight discomfort for him. He shares, “A gentleman from Calcutta I donated my blood to treats my mother as his own. Whenever he comes around, he unfailingly meets her and pays his respect. What more could I ask for?”
Other Endeavours of Shabir Khan
Khan has been actively creating awareness around blood donation across the country. While people are still afraid to come forward and donate blood, he tries his best to encourage them to do the noble deed. He organises campaigns and medical camps throughout the year and has teamed up with local radio stations for the same. With time, he mentions, “People have become more open to the idea of blood donation. This gives me a lot of happiness.” However, there is a long way for us to go. According to Khan, India doesn’t provide facilities and incentives for donors. This demotivates eligible people to donate their blood. “The least the government can do is recognise our action and provide us monetary support,” comments Shabir, who is crushed under poverty.
Khan says that it takes courage and determination to continue giving one’s blood, year after year. He used to work as a papier-mache artist. However, after people stopped buying the products, he switched to manual labouring to earn his livelihood. Although the lack of support disappoints him, his unwavering commitment to do good to others fuel his actions. Besides blood donation, Khan is associated with the Indian Red Cross Society and heads a team of 40 members to help people affected in earthquake-prone and flood-affected areas. In addition to this, he is a volunteer with Civil Defence and has been working in the space of disaster management as well.
During Covid-19, there was an urgent need for blood and other material. Khan donated his blood thrice and continued to do as much as he could to help his fellow beings. He only wishes for society and the government to recognise the efforts of the donors and encourage them. He adds, “My Allah has chosen me to serve my brothers and sisters. There are a few more years until I turn 65. Till then, I’ll continue to donate blood. Allah will certainly reward me.” he says.
Shabir Bhai, we believe so too!