LONDON - Seeking to help those in need, British Muslim youths are championing a campaign across London mosques on Friday, June 14, to encourage Muslims to sign up as blood donors on World Blood Donor Day.
"As a community, we're very charitable, Sarah Ibrahim, a project manager for the scheme championed by Young Planners group, told the BBC.
But there just isn't much awareness on this particular issue."
Leading the project, Young Planners said they will be in five London mosques on Friday 14 June to mark World Blood Donor Day.
The project would target ethnic minorities within the Muslim community, a large proportion of whom are South Asian.
According to NHS figures, British South Asians make up less than 2.5% of all blood donors across the UK.
There's a 20% chance of South Asians being blood group B, whilst this is 9% for Caucasians, Theo Clarke, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said.
In such a diverse country, it's important that our blood donor base is as diverse.
Crucially, some people need blood transfusions for life including those with thalassemia, a blood disorder which destroys red blood cells, found predominantly in South Asian and Mediterranean communities.
"It's beneficial to receive blood from someone of the same ethnicity, Clarke said.
"We've also seen a drop in the number of young people in our donor base and they need to step forward."
Planning the event, Ibrahim noted that there were challenges in informing British Muslims about blood donation.
"Quite a few Muslims think that blood donation isn't acceptable in Islam. This is a big misconception, she said.
"But I think our main problem is that we focus on other things.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.5 million.
The National Health Service needs 7,000 voluntary donations of blood daily with only four percent of the eligible population are active blood donors.
Encouraging Muslims to donate bloods, the campaign doctors noted that many people are not aware with the need to give blood, except when facing a life-threatening experience.
Often people aren't aware of the need to give blood until a loved one has a bleed in pregnancy or a car accident, Dr Dina Saleh, a trainee GP assisting the campaign, said.
I've often found Muslims or Asians signing up to become donors after such incidences."
That was the case for mother-of-two, Ula Sakr, who signed up after she experienced complications in her pregnancy which involved a caesarean section and led to her haemorrhaging.
"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," she said.
Raising her seven-month-old twin girls, the Muslim mother said she would teach them the importance of giving and donating blood.
"I'm certainly going to teach them the importance of donating blood," she said.
"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 are optimistic the campaign will go national across the UK mosques.
Other mosques outside London want to get involved in our initiative, Ibrahim said.
"So we hope this becomes a national project next year with cities across the UK participating on 14th June 2014."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net