Muslims from London launched a new campaign yesterday spearheaded by a voluntary Islamic organization to give blood to those who need it.
The campaign titled “I Am A Muslim And I Give Blood” is being led by “Young Planners” to encourage Muslims to sign up as blood donors. They started their campaign in five London mosques on Friday to mark World Blood Donor Day. The campaigners specifically targeted South Asians who are the largest ethnic group within the Muslim community.
NHS figures show that British South Asians make up less than 2.5% of all blood donors in the UK. Spokesman of NHS and Transplant, Theo Clarke stated how low numbers of donors was generally becoming a “real problem”.
Mr Clarke said: “There’s a 20% chance of South Asians being blood group B, whilst this is 9% for Caucasians. In such a diverse country, it’s important that our blood donor base is as diverse.”
The importance of this finding is that some people need blood transfusions for life for example those suffering from “thalassemia”, a blood disorder which destroys red blood cells, found predominantly in South Asian and Mediterranean populations.
Mr Clarke said: “It’s beneficial to receive blood from someone of the same ethnicity. We’ve also seen a drop in the number of young people in our donor base and they need to step forward.”
Project Manager of the “I Am A Muslim And I Give Blood” campaign, Sarah Ibrahim, highlighted the challenges in informing Muslims in Britain about blood donation. She said: “Quite a few Muslims think that blood donation isn’t acceptable in Islam. This is a big misconception. But I think our main problem is that we focus on other things. As a community, we’re very charitable, but there just isn’t much awareness on this particular issue.”
Trainee GP, Dr Dina Saleh assisting the campaign agreed with Ms Ibrahim. She said: “Often people aren’t aware of the need to give blood until a loved one has a bleed in pregnancy or a car accident. I’ve often found Muslims or Asians signing up to become donors after such incidences.”
An example of this scenario was the case of mother-of-two, Ula Sakr, who signed up for blood donation after she experienced complications in her pregnancy which involved a caesarean section and led to her haemorrhaging. Mrs Sakr said: “I lost four litres of blood. If it wasn’t for someone else’s blood, I wouldn’t be alive now. So I’m very grateful.
“I’m certainly going to teach them the importance of donating blood. My family are originally Lebanese and I don’t feel British Arabs really think about this matter. Yet I’d say my generation are now trying to do their bit.”
Young Planners was initially apprehensive of the response it would receive from Britain’s Muslim communities but now they are optimistic the London campaign will go national by 2014.
Ms Ibrahim said: “Other mosques outside London want to get involved in our initiative. So we hope this becomes a national project next year with cities across the UK participating after today’s success.”
The campaign already has over 2000 “likes” on their Facebook page and hundreds of Muslims have shown an interest to hold similar events in their local mosques.