By Elham Asaad Buaras
British Muslims are showing their support for blood donation this month by giving blood to save lives in 10 cities across the UK as part of a nationwide campaign.
Running throughout this month and December the Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign (IHBD) aims to increase the number of regular blood donors from Muslim and other ethnic minority communities in Britain.
The campaign was started 2006 by volunteers from the Islamic Unity Society (IUS) who noticed the lack of Muslim donors at their local blood donation centre in Manchester. Using the slogan ‘Give back, Give blood,’ the focus of the campaign is the annual multi-city blood drive held during the Islamic month of Muharram when Muslims all over the world gather to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
In its first year IHBD was successful in encouraging 23 people from Manchester to donate blood, the following year the campaign was extended to London, Glasgow, Birmingham with 50 successful blood donations.
In 2011 the campaign was introduced to more major cities across the UK with 268 successful donations; by last year over 300 people donated blood across 10 cities, including: London, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Leicester, Edinburgh and Surrey.
In a statement to The Muslim News IHBD founder, Dr Marwan Al-Dawoud, said, “An important part of our faith as Muslims is to contribute to the society we live in and this campaign encourages people to do just that.”
A single blood donation has the potential to save three adult or seven infant lives. Currently, only 4% of the UK population are blood donors, and of this number only 3% are from an Asian, African and African-Caribbean background. However, the NHS requires around 8,000 units of blood per day and increasingly more are needed from ethnic minority communities who are more likely to have rarer blood groups.
Noor Al-Hussaini, who donated blood for the first time last year, said; “It was a good experience. The staff were really friendly and very understanding. The whole process went very smoothly and made me wonder why I hadn’t donated blood before. I will most definitely donate blood again when I can.”
Anyone aged between 17 and 65, generally in good health and weighing more than 50kg (7st 12lbs), could potentially become a blood donor and help to save lives.
Sessions are planned in London, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Leicester, Luton, Glasgow and Edinburgh throughout November and December.