This article has been sponsored by Uber.
It was an ordinary day for Akash Gaikwad. A Mumbai police constable from the Local Arms Division-2, he was reporting for his regular duty. Little did he know that the day would turn out to be extremely eventful and change his entire perspective on life.
Saving and protecting the lives of citizens has always been part of his work portfolio but this was a unique opportunity.
On 1 June 2020, Mumbai witnessed the tumultuous Nisarg Cyclone that upended peoples’ lives by creating havoc and even obstructed several forms of communication and transportation. At a time like this, when containing panic and ensuring the safety of citizens overwhelms civil servants, Akash had another life to save. “Working for strangers and helping them is a part and parcel of this job and something that I love about it. But that was memorable because I could go beyond the scope of my job and help save the life of a child,” he says.
This child was a young 14-year-old girl named Sana Fahim Khan. Living with a terminal heart condition, Sana had to be admitted to the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai and had to undergo open-heart surgery that very day. Sana had a rare blood type A+, and at a time when most hospitals across the city were grappling with a shortage of resources, especially blood, due to the pandemic, sourcing her blood type was a bigger challenge. Plus, the limit on transportation and communication caused by the cyclone made things even more difficult.
None of her family members could reach the hospital to satisfy her requirement by donating their blood. Desperate to save their daughter’s life, her parents instead circulated a text message among their acquaintances and on various social media platforms, seeking people who could donate the rare A+ blood. This was their only hope to save Sana’s life.
Coincidentally, one of Akash’s friends got the text message. He was aware of the fact that Akash had a rare blood type, especially because he would often engage himself in numerous blood donation camps to help people.
“A friend of mine told me about a small girl in urgent need of A+ blood. I have been donating blood for over 5 years and he knew that my blood type was rare. I was glad he told me about the requirement and without wasting time I went to help her,” narrates Akash.
Sana was a stranger fighting for her life and Akash’s one decision to show up and donate blood, gave her the most valuable gift of all — the gift of life. This decision, taken amidst two raging disasters, the cyclone and the pandemic, had considerable risk but nothing could deter Akash from both doing his duty and going out of his way to carry out a selfless act.
“I was on duty at Tardeo when I heard her case and immediately rushed to Hinduja Hospital to offer help,” adds Akash, who donated two units of blood to help the girl.
This brave act by our everyday hero Akash was the inspiration behind Uber’s latest campaign, showcasing stories of unstoppable Indians who have challenged the status quo.
For Akash, a native of the Sangli district in Maharashtra, this act was an extension of the work to which he has dedicated years of his life. “In our line of work, we are constantly putting our lives at risk to help strangers. So helping Sana came very naturally to me. I have two kids and I can imagine the pain her parents must have been going through. By donating some blood, if I could ease their pain and save her life, why shouldn’t I,” shares Akash who stays in Tardeo for his duty, while his family including his wife, kids and parents stay in Sangli.
When not on duty, Akash likes to pursue his passion for bodybuilding and actively invests his time to improve his health, all so that he can donate blood every six months. He says that being born with a rare blood type allowed him to bear a sense of responsibility toward others and blood donation is his way of giving back to society. It was this principle that motivated Akash to help Sana, who is now a healthy 16-year-old about to complete her Class 10. Every year, during the Eid festival, Akash pays a visit to Sana to make sure she and her family are doing well.
“Sometimes, our choices help us connect even with strangers,” he says, adding how proud he is to see Sana grow into a bright young girl.
Uber India aims to make its platform accessible to millions of resilient aspirers in India who are constantly striving to fulfil their ambitions and make life better for themselves and their loved ones. With their new campaign, ‘Go Get It With Uber’, they are paying a tribute to the indomitable spirit of resilient aspirers like Akash by highlighting their real stories.
A film called Blood Donation, inspired by Akash’s story, narrates a day in the life of a young man who while in line for a prestigious job interview, decides to go donate blood for his friend’s father. While on his way to the big interview, he gets the news and decides to detour to donate blood. He goes to the interview afterwards because an act of kindness doesn’t always have to follow a compromise. His compassion and a sense of selfless duty are virtues Uber India is celebrating through this initiative.