Blood brother: the Kashmiri man who is India’s biggest donor

Shabir Hussain Khan was taking an afternoon nap when he heard a commotion outside his house. A friend had been injured playing football and had lost a lot of blood. Khan, without any transport, rushed to the hospital by foot to donate some. It was 4 July 1980. Yesterday the man known locally as the “blood man of Kashmir” donated his 174th pint of his blood at the public hospital close to his Srinagar home.

“Blood is not something you can buy in the market,” says Khan, who has an O-negative blood group. “In those days blood donation was not common, nor were blood banks. The way blood is available readily now, it was not like that before. Also there was no connectivity at that time. We only had radios and two or three landline phones in the entire locality.”

Khan, 57, lives in Srinagar with his ailing mother, his brother and his adopted daughter. He has remained unmarried. “Witnessing people’s sufferings and their struggle has foreshadowed my own desires. I have made this my life’s mission,” he says.

Khan says he was afraid the first time he donated blood but has never felt unwell or faced any problem and now it has become very normal.

Security in conflict-racked Kashmir can be uncertain, and hospitals often need blood donors. Khan gives blood four to five times a year. His contribution is not only the highest in Kashmir, he’s been told, but in all of India.