Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started taking lives of millions around the world, scientists have been trying to invent vaccine and medics have been relentlessly trying to save the patients with their best offerings. Convalescent plasma therapy has been a proven, effective therapy for COVID-19 patients; and in order to ease the process of finding plasma donors around the country, a bunch of young minds voluntary geared up and launched a new platform - titled as 'Initiative-V'.

Before heading up to the initiative, it is necessary to know why this plasma therapy is important for batling COVID-19. In this therapy - plasma, aka the liquid, white part of blood is collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, as antibodies are developed in the plasma of blood against the virus - so plasma helps fighting the virus in the body. Convalescent plasma is being investigated for the treatment of COVID-19 as a test therapy, as there is no confirm treatment for this disease yet - but some information and case studies around the world show that the patients have recovered from COVID-19 using the therapy.

However, finding plasma can be a troublesome process - just like searching for blood and donors. In this unprecedented time, moving here and there for plasma can be very hectic and risky; and in this ongoing revolutionary 'new normal' era of online, the smart and most effective move is to help the plasma seekers and donors be congregated under one digital roof - and hence the emergence of 'Initiative-V' occurred.

"We, the founding team of 'Initiative-V', believe that a perfect Initiative can change a lot. So we initiated our common goal to incorporate some interesting ideas to make impactful changes in Bangladesh. We want to make people's lives easier. So, I, and my other co-founder, started our journey together as the 'Initiative-V'", Sakib Ibna Islam Dip, a final year BBA student at the East West University, Dhaka and one of the co-founders of this online-based plasma-helpline platform, told Dhaka Courier.

About the beginning, Sakib described - "During this ongoing time of coronavirus pandemic, many people are seeking plasma for their dear ones - as there is no vaccine invented yet for COVID-19 and this one particular therapy has been a proven success. Searching for Plasma donors can be very much stressful, as there is a shortage of people out there who can donate plasma. People search for plasma donors on different Facebook groups - there are times when they find some, and also the opposite happens, unfortunately, every now and then. So me and my friend, Mueem Nahid (also a student, currently studying in the CSE department at East-West University) - we both were thinking about how to make their task easier and less stressful. Because of that reason, we came up with a website titled 'Donate Plasma' (http://donateplasma.rf.gd/), a place where easily plasma seekers can find out plasma donors. We made the website within 10 days and it started operating on June 17. Also, we launched our Facebook page of 'Initiative-V' around that time."

Eligibility required to be a plasma donor? The website says that people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks, are encouraged to consider donating plasma, which may help save the lives of other patients. COVID-19 convalescent plasma must only be collected from recovered individuals if they are eligible to donate blood. Individuals must have had a prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test and meet other donor criteria. Individuals must have complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days prior to donation.

How was the initial response? "Soon after launching the website, we got so many positive responses and 5 more friends of ours - Kaniz Kagji Bhuiyan (BBA, East West University), Abrar Rashid Lehan (BBA, East West University), Tazrian Zaman (Civil Engineering, Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology), Muftaseem Fuad Amio (BBA, North South University) and Toki Ahmed Chayan (CSE, East West University) - joined our team of founding members within the very next day, to be parts of our journey" - Sakib explained how people received the initiative.

Any voluntary step must have to face some hurdles in the beginning, and explaining their hurdles, Sakib said, "Though we got so many positive responses since the beginning, the journey was not easy at all. Generally, if an idea has not been executed before, no one can tell how it will go in the future. A little number of plasma donors started registering on our website - and the prime reason behind that was they were not informed enough about plasma donation, and many of them were thinking that donating plasma can potentially be harmful to them while others might have thought that we might be frauds as they do not know us in-person."

"To solve these issues, we have launched a community-building group on Facebook named "TOGETHER by Initiative-V" - where our prime goal is to build trust among people about us, create awareness and help them with information that they want to know regarding plasma donation. We are also planning out and already started preparing informative contents for the people of this community group. Thus, we are heading towards our vision which is - one day, people in Bangladesh would not have to think about finding out necessary aid" - Sakib expressed his hope regarding this golden initiative.

The youths of Bangladesh have showcased their combined abilities from time to time, fighting the impossible. These aspiring undergraduate students are taking the much-needed lead to aid plasma seekers, and noble initiatives like 'Initiative - V' can be the bridge in between saving lives, with cooperation from everyone in the society.

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