Mass SMS appeal for blood successful in India

Literally a life saver...

Literally a life saver...

An Indian mobile operator agreed to send out an SMS appeal to thousands after a distressed son pleaded with the company to help his father. According to Indian daily The Times of India, telco Bharti Airtel sent out a mobile appeal last week, urging subscribers with a rare A-negative blood type to step forward to help Harinder Choudhary. His father had a life-threatening ailment which requires two units of blood transfusion a day, the report said. Choudhary approached Airtel for permission to broadcast his request. The telco agreed and sent out a mass blood donation appeal via SMS to thousands of its subscribers. Although the blast was targeted at only a small portion of Airtel's user base, which totals millions, it was enough to help Choudhary. "We thought about broadcasting our plea on FM radio channels and also advertise in the newspaper but eventually SMS turned out to be far faster and more cost-effective. So many people responded positively to my plea for blood - it was really overwhelming," Choudhary was quoted as saying. Regional Airtel CEO Sanjay Nandrajog said: "As a responsible corporate citizen there are times when we send out emergency messages to our subscribers. This is done on purely humanitarian grounds and the formalities are kept at the minimum." This is not the first time Airtel has agreed to broadcast an appeal for blood donations. In justifying its decision, Airtel said it verifies the authenticity of each request. To avoid spamming all its users, Nandrajog said such broadcasts are usually limited to about 5,000 randomly-chosen subscribers. While such pleas for help are common on SMS, they are usually begun as a group SMS sent to friends, who in turn send it on. Winston Chai writes for CNETAsia.