I used to call this a feeling of deja vu, but it’s far too frequent to be categorised as that. It feels as though every morning when I turn on my television I’m watching the aftermath of yet another heinous act of terror. This time as I watched, a ticker appeared appealing for emergency blood donations for the injured, and within a matter of hours the authorities released another statement announcing that sufficient blood had been collected. The oft quoted Quranic verse “…and whoever saves one life, it is as if he had saved the whole of mankind” came to mind.
One of the tragedies of the brutal attacks of late is the age of the perpetrators, seldom do we hear of men in their 40’s or 50’s carrying out the attacks, rather it’s normally young men in their 20’s or early 30’s hell bent on devastation and destroying life. There is however another group of young men and women who are working day in day out tirelessly to collect blood – not spill it.
These are the volunteers of the Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign (IHBDC) – the UK’s first and largest national blood donation initiative in the Muslim community. It’s a powerful grassroots initiative run with youthful exuberance, determination and devotion to the most natural of human ideals – to help and save lives.
IHBDC seeks to actualise the message of Imam Hussain’s sacrifice, by saving the lives of those in need and uphold the concept of altruistic giving, a value of the beloved Ahlul Bayt (as). The campaign which simplifies the potential to save three adult lives or seven child lives from just one small donation has been spreading all over the world under the banner of Imam Hussain, with a vision for blood donation to become a common feature of every Muslim centre around the globe.
On Sunday 10th of July IHBDC celebrated 10 years of saving lives with a fully booked blood drive at the Islamic Centre of England where over 90 units were collected. The campaign has been so successful that a formal partnership agreement is now in place between NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and IHBDC to work even more closely. Through the partnership we also look forward to encouraging more Islamic centres and mosques to open their doors to hosting blood drives.
To date almost 3,000 donations have been made, and now as the campaign moves from an annual one to all year round, it aims to collect 1,000 donations this year alone. There is a particular challenge amongst the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups who make up 14% of the eligible donor population in England and North Wales, yet only three per cent of donors – the campaign is working to redress this.
In light of these senseless attacks on human life and all the attacks around the world, IUS & IHBDC would like to take this opportunity to call all people, and particularly those from the BAME groups to action, to step up and become a blood donor. There is no time better than the present to take the initiative, and to act to save a life.
For those familiar with the tragedy of Imam Hussain the flag bearer of the campaign, they will know that his cry of “hal min nasirin yansurna” (is there anyone to help me) was a timeless call to action for each one of us, that wherever you are, whatever you are – come to one another’s aid.
Donating blood is simple and straightforward; sometimes people feel pressure from society or family which can prevent them from following through. Equally sometimes people just aren’t well informed enough. To find out more about donating visit www.blood.co.uk and www.who.int both of which are excellent resources packed with statistics, videos, moving real-life stories, and information about how to get involved.
Technology is also playing an increasing role in the blood donation journey, making it more rewarding than ever before. In some parts of the country donors are receiving notifications on their mobile phones when their blood has been dispatched to a recipient, and again once the transfusion is complete. NHSBT have even created the NHS Give Blood app to make it easier for donors to book appointments and access information.
To find out more about the incredible work being done by the Islamic Unity Society (IUS) and the volunteers of the Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign, and how to get involved visit www.ius.org.uk/giveblood