On October 1, Facebook launched a new feature in India to make it easier for people to sign up to be donors and to connect people and organizations with the blood donations they need, right from Facebook.

But how did we get here? The product was built in part on activity we saw our users taking. But it was the important collaboration with partners in our community, such as NTR Trust, Sarthak Prayas, Rotary, BloodConnect, and SocialBlood to bring blood banks, hospitals, and donors together. This story highlights how Karthik Naralasetty, a technology leader at SocialBlood and early partner with Internet.org, provided insight and leveraged Facebook to connect donors to those in need.

Identifying the Challenge

Many countries — 71 according to the World Health Organization — collect more than half of their blood supply through a replacement donor system. That means if you or a loved one receives blood from a hospital or blood bank, you’ll need to find a donor to replenish the blood you received, often in a few days.

One of those individuals was a young girl in Bangalore, India, that Karthik read about in 2011. He couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get the blood she needed each month to survive.

Not long after, he came across a Facebook post from a friend who was requesting blood for his father. Luckily, he was able to find blood donors through his friends and family on Facebook. This gave Karthik an idea. With so many people on Facebook in India, why not use the network to connect people seeking blood with donors?

The Network it Takes, the Platform He Needed

Karthik set up a series of eight Facebook Groups, one for each blood type. Members of each group could post a request with the required blood type. This eventually led to the creation of Socialblood, an app that connects blood donors to recipients around the world. One of the most touching stories involved the father of a 4-year-old girl in Hyderabad who was going through heart surgery. The father posted this need and within 6 hours she received 80 offers to help.

“Our mission was to connect more donors with more recipients so that more lives could be saved,” says Karthik. “Facebook seemed like a natural and convenient place for people to connect. With so many active users, the Facebook platform allowed us to impact the problem in a big way.”

What’s Next

Now, the ability to donate and find blood donors has been embedded within Facebook (see how it works here). With the insights of our community, helped by groups like Socialblood, we’re able to deliver tools that connect people to the help they need, when they need it.