The e-initiatives that are saving lives in Kashmir!

“Save Heart Initiative”, a WhatsApp group of doctors, provides expert advice to their counterparts working in peripheral hospitals on handling patients who have suffered sudden heart attack; helps people in need of blood to find donors instantly

With each passing minute Abdur Rashid (name changed) was losing hope of seeing his wife alive again. The 56-year old man wasn’t able to arrange blood required for emergency surgery of his wife at SMHS hospital. Suffering from an illness, Rasheed wasn’t in a position to donate blood himself and none of his relatives were around. But then, “unthinkable” happened. Two young men, unknown to him, turned up outside operation theatre. “We have come to donate blood,” they told the man with grey beard. In no time, all procedures were completed and the duo donated a pint of blood each.

“They were angles,” Rasheed talked about the youth.  The two youth, in their 20s, were among ordinary Srinagarites, who have registered themselves on “I always believed in charity and I felt there is nothing better than saving somebody’s life,” one of the donors said, wishing not to be named. For his colleague, “Save a life today”, a tagline of the initiative, became the motivation. This “life saving mission” however began when a doctor at SMHS Hospital came across a sticker pasted on a wall about When the doctor saw Rashid crying helplessly, he logged on to the initiative’s website to try and help the distraught man.

To his pleasant surprise, “it was too simple” to arrange blood for the patient. is an e-platform that builds a network of people ready to donate blood to a person in need. A person in need, or their relatives and friends can reach a nearby donor, found on the website of the initiative. The location and the contact details of donors are displayed on a map making it easy to find a donor who is available for help. “It is a very simple platform, quite similar to Google Maps,” said Villayat Zaman, founder of Explaining, he said, if a person in need of blood is in Bemina, a family member, friend or a doctor would enter the location information as Bemina on the website. “It would instantly display the area on a map, along with the blood donor’s location and contact information,” Zaman said. He is currently working as a senior business analyst on Road Master International, a Hong Kong-based company. Zaman said the prevailing situation in Kashmir motivated him to come up with the initiative. “I have seen how we in Kashmir need blood, direly at times,” he said. “Kashmir needs walking blood banks and every living human beibg is one,” he said.

“Blood can be stored up to a certain time in blood banks. But in humans, it can stay fresher and safer. Every person is an anytime blood depot and helps those in need to find those ready to give”. He said that at any given time there were people in need of blood and there were people ready to donate blood. “All what was missing was connect between two sides,” he said. The core members of the initiative are IT professionals, doctors and educationists. The group is in the process of launching its android app to make locating blood simpler.

The founders are aggressively spreading awareness about the benefits of blod donation and urging that more and more people register themselves on the website. “It (blood donation) is one simple deed that can save not one, but three lives,” Zaman said. Locate Blood is however, not the only initiative based on social interactive platforms that are saving lives in Kashmir. 

A Whatsapp group started by doctors in Kashmir is saving lives of people who suffer a heart attack. Named “Save Heart Initiative”, the group has three numbers, with over 700 members. These members are doctors working in peripheral hospitals, physicians, and cardiologists mostly working in Kashmir and some outside Kashmir too, even as far as USA. The group ensures round-the-clock advice by experienced cardiologists is available to a doctor working in peripheral hospital. “The aim is to treat acute heart attack in golden hour,” says Dr Imran Hafeez, a founding member of the initiative and a cardiologist at SKIMS. Golden hour is the immediate one hour following an emergency when the treatment provided can prove most effective. “Only timely intervention can ensure that the patient survives and does not end up with dead heart muscle that leads to heart ailments later in life,” he said.

On an average, 30-40 echocardiographs (ECGs) are analysed in a day on the groups, of patients presenting with suspected heart ailments in peripheral hospitals. When a doctor working in a far off hospital receives the patient he or she discusses symptoms on the group, and gets first set of advice. The doctor then prescribes the investigations, reports of which are shared on Save Heart Group and gets instant advice of cardiologists and step by step instructions on what to do. The group remains active during day as well as night. “At night, sometimes, many cardiologists working in Kashmir are unable to reply. It is unrealistic to expect someone to be there all the time,” said one of the founding member Dr Irfan Ahmed Bhat, who works as a cardiologist at SMHS Hospital.

“During such times doctors who are working in other time zones such as Australia and USA chip in to guide a doctor trying to save a life in a peripheral hospital, he said. Since December 2017, when Save Heart Initiative was launched by Dr Saleem ur Rehman, former director general of health services Kashmir, and an ardent supporter of the idea, over 362 thromblysis have been performed in peripheral hospitals under guidance of experts. During this period, over 2100 cases of arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) have been treated, and over 1300 cases of Nstemis have been addressed. “In all, we have intervened in over 7000 patients with heart issues till September this year,” says Dr Nasir Shamas, working as a consultant in JLNM hospital and a core group member. In addition, DC shocks, meant to resuscitate patients have been given to 34 dying people under supervision of experts.

The impressive success of Save Heart Initiative has pumped new confidence in peripheral doctors who instead of referring a patient with complaints of heart ailment straightaway to a tertiary care hospital, ensure that they are able to stabilize him or her first.

“We save lives, everyday, everywhere as one huge team,” said Dr Muzaffar Zargar who works as a physician in district hospital Ganderbal. He too is a core member of the initiative. The core group members of the initiative have also started a weekly program to train doctors in basic emergency and life saving skills. Every week, around 20 doctors are trained in managing cardiac emergencies and analyzing ECG. The trainings are facilitated by health services Kashmir. “We have to spread the light so that no one’s life turns dark just because of unavailable expertise,” says Dr Afaq Jalali, a core member and a physician working in Srinagar.