Shabbir Hussain Khan who is 57 years of age is known as the “blood man of Kashmir.” He resides in Alie Kadal which is a part of the old city Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir), who has been contributing his blood in the endeavours of serving humanity. It was the year 1980, when this O+blood group, first donated his blood while he was merely 15 years old.
So far, he has donated 174 pints (174th was on 17th June 2021) of blood from the past 41 years at a government hospital located near his residence in Srinagar. The inspiration for many has made blood donations his life religion and looks forward to donating his blood till he reaches 65 years of age. He has become India’s biggest blood donor.
Irrespective of his age, he never let it come in the way of his contribution towards such a noble cause.
He claims to have saved more than a hundred lives in the past 41 years across the Kashmir valley. And now, he has made it a ritual to donate his blood after every 3 months with the intent to save the precious lives of others. Due to his relentless contribution since childhood, he had been invited by Mother Teresa to Calcutta in the year 1998 and was appreciated by her for his work.
Shabbir Hussain Khan: Early life
Professionally, he works at a paper mache crafts store in Srinagar. According to Shabir to upkeep his livelihood, he worked as a daily wage labourer.
Where he mentioned “It may sound strange to you but it is true. I used to be a papier-mache artist but no one buys papier-mache products anymore, so I had to look for something else to survive.” Where his mother’s medical expenses had been crushing him, due to poverty prevailing in his life. It became backbreaking for him to deal with such a situation and manage the wages of a daily wage worker. On which he felt that when one has given so much to the society and when he himself needs it, no one comes forward to offer help.
Where, giving blood is no joke as it calls for immense motivation, perseverance, and dedication. Undeniably, according to his belief, it’s true that blood is not something one can buy from the market and blood donation has not been a common phenomenon in the early days for the blood banks.
The way blood is easily accessible now was never the case before. In addition to this issue, there was a lack of connectivity at that time, where radio was the only available medium. The communication channels were restricted to 2-3 landline phones in the entire area.
When did it start?
On 4th July 1980, Shabir was taking an afternoon nap and heard a hue and cry outside his home. It was when one of his friends got injured during a football match and had lost considerable blood.
At that time there wasn’t any commuting facility so Shabir sprinted on foot to donate his blood for the first time in his life. It was that day and now that there was no looking back, from that time itself blood donation became a part of his life and this spirit got boosted more with his family encouraging him towards this noble cause.
By now he believes that there is nothing noble for him other than donating blood as it serves humanity and he holds no fear in this endeavour. Also, he always says that he loves every life as dear as his friend.
Who inspired Shabbir Khan to donate blood?
It stands true that when someone witnesses something happening right in front of their eyes things take a turn and this is exactly what occurred to Shabir. There, he saw a house collapsing in Lal Bazaar and about 200 women being injured. Indeed it was a very heartbreaking sight, where people had to give their blood for 2 consecutive days. This incident had shaken Shabir to the core, along with the URI earthquake that changed his perception towards life upside down.
It was then when he understood and realized how blood can save so many lives. These incidents not just made Shabir a consistent blood donor yet he also started motivating others around him.
His endeavours of this campaign started witnessing flying colours of success. Where he formed a voluntary organisation and people started joining him in his endeavour. Then be it the destructive earthquake that occurred in the year 2005 or the floods that prevailed in the year 2014, Shabir and his associates stood strong and played a vital role in these lives threatening disasters. In these circumstances, Shabir made sure to donate his blood to as many needy people as possible.
The Prevailing Scenario
According to Shabir, over the years thousands of people’s blood has been shed in Kashmir owing to conflicts. Due to this sometimes in the hospitals too, due to lack of blood availability at the time of need, several lives are lost.
Unfortunately, there is no concept of mobile blood donation camps in Kashmir and those who voluntarily donate blood don’t get any support from the government except Rs 10 refreshment from Aids Control Organization. However, if people become aware of blood donation then many precious lives can be saved, as merely 1 unit of blood can save at least 4 lives. All this just requires awareness.
From his own experiences, Shabir says that when he sees patients suffering from dreadful diseases in the hospitals, for time being one forgets all the worldly pleasures. For this reason, Shabir spends a minimum of 2 two hours every day in city hospitals to find those patients who need blood.
Where he says “If you visit SMHS, SKIIMS, JVC, Bone and Joint hospitals, you will find the condition of some of the patients who have nobody to look after them. I go along with my team there and donate blood. There is an immense need for blood in hospitals for accident victims, delivery women and other people. So people must come forward and donate blood to save the lives of people irrespective of religion, region or caste.”
Besides donating blood, Shabir has also been running an awareness campaign and is a lifetime member of the Red Cross Society, where he convinces people to save lives. Not just this, yet in addition, he also used to give water to mourners during Muharram processions and it gave him immense satisfaction.
He always keeps his mother’s teachings in mind of what she taught him about serving people who are in need. Where his mother taught that for high profile people, many will come forward however for poor and underprivileged, no one comes forward. Hence, he is on this mission to help the latter.
Shabbir Khan’s Contribution Beyond Kashmir
In this selfless journey of serving humanity, Shabir has also donated blood outside Kashmir, in parts of India viz. Odisha, New Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and several other states. In the year 2004, he had spent about 2 months in the Tsunami-affected areas for the purpose of blood donation and also lent a helping hand in blood collection.
Shabir says that he doesn’t need money for doing all this but for sure needs recognition like other artists. Where he believes that when musicians can get recognition then why not an individual who dedicates his life to others wellbeing.
He disheartedly mentions, “I don’t feel any weakness by donating blood but I regret that the government has ignored me.”
As he had put forward his name for the state award but his name was dropped by the government, even though he had been at the forefront in social services. To this, he laments and says that “These awards are reserved for people having political affiliations.”
Also, some people accuse him of calling him drunk and say that he does all this for money. To this, Shabir answers them that he is donating blood for Allah and will continue doing it till his last breath.
Shabbir Khan’s Thoughts
Truly, Shabir has become an inspiration for many and now wishes to do something for the underprivileged children of the state, where he wants to work with the deaf, dumb and other underprivileged section of people. He sends his messages to everyone saying that if one is healthy then he/she must donate blood for saving the lives of others while it does not harm one’s health instead gives a different level of satisfaction. And nothing can be a greater gift than this.