For the last three years Iryna Slavinska has dedicated her life to one thing – boosting blood donation in Ukraine. The head of the non-profit Association of Young Blood Donors, Slavinska, says most people don’t understand how vital blood donors are to the health sector, and the Ukrainian government is doing nothing to help.
In fact, patients themselves often have to seek out suitable blood donors themselves, she told the Kyiv Post .
“There’s no unified register of blood donors and donation centers in Ukraine, and there’s no program to popularize and inform citizens about donating blood,” Slavinska said. “People in hospital beds have to look for donors themselves.”
Seeing this, Slavinska decided to launch DonorUA, an online service that matches up blood donors with potential recipients.
DonorUA’s automated system matches recipients and donors according to the requested and available types of blood. Next, using location information about donors and recipients, it finds the nearest and most suitable blood donation center.
The system also creates a donor database, which speeds up the process of getting the required blood to recipients to a few days, and sometimes only a few hours.
DonorUA started fully operating a year ago. Slavinska told the Kyiv Post it had started with just two people: her and Aleksandr Krakovetskiy, the CEO of DevRain, a computer software developer. It now has about 300 volunteers throughout Ukraine, and 4,500 registered blood donors.
The system’s blood donor database is mainly built manually, via a platform for social media monitoring and analysis that was also developed in Ukraine – YouScan. The platform scours the Internet for articles and posts that contain the words “donor” or “blood,” and then contacts the people who created them to see if they are interested in becoming donors.
The DonorUa team is now planning to develop an improved version of their smartphone application and website, adding bots to make the process completely automated.
The smart bots’ system will be able to reply to participants’ questions, send out messages, monitor the physical condition of blood donors and distribute incentivizing bonuses and gifts to donors.
The idea for the improvements won the team a prize at the Startup Weekend: Social Innovation contest that took place in Stockholm, Sweden on March 18-20. There, the team presented its subsidiary UDonors, through which it aims to bring its service to other countries.
“DonorUA is a stepping stone for UDonors,” Slavinska said. “There are problems with blood donation outside of Ukraine as well.”
But compared to its Ukrainian parent, UDonors is a “business,” and we have “monetization plan” for it, Slavinska said.
According to the company’s development road map, which has been published on its official website, in 2017 the startup is to introduce a “bloodmobile” – a mobile blood donation center to popularize and make more convenient the process of blood donation in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Slavinska and her team are still working hard to develop the vital service they provide in Ukraine, without any support from the government.
“It’s really difficult to do things that are needed by citizens, but that the state doesn’t care about,” Slavinska said.
This story was first published in the Kyiv Post, a syndication partner of Ukrainian Digital News.