LONDON: As global blood supply runs out, a British grassroots social justice charity has attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the most donations in one calendar day to raise awareness of this life-saving measure.
The aim is to especially seek more support from Black, Asian and minority communities where rare blood groups are common.
The volunteer-led global initiative, which was organized on Saturday by the organization Who is Hussain, was held in over 350 cities in 28 countries crossing six continents, from Auckland to San Francisco, organizers said.
“We call it Global Blood Heroes Day and it’s been an incredible response from the global community … in New Zealand to Australia, waking us up telling us they’re donating, to India, Pakistan, and America is now coming in,” Dr. Mohammed Abbas Khaki, trustee at the charity, told Arab News on the sidelines of one of their drive locations in London.
“The previous record was around 30 to 33,000 and we’re hoping to go to 50,000 and save 150,000 lives, but I think the most important thing is putting blood donation back on the map,” he said.
Khaki said when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, donations fell due to lockdowns and sicknesses and there is currently a global blood crisis.
“In June, the Red Cross in the US declared a global blood shortage, in the UK there’s only six days of stock of blood left if we were to stop today, so it’s a huge need (and) a free way to help other people and to save lives,” he added.
Khaki said many people are reluctant to donate because they believe their blood may not be used, or that it is a difficult process to undertake. He said the organization aims to change these misperceptions.
Hospitals in the UK need to recruit 400 new blood donors every day to save the lives of those involved in accidents, childbirth, and who have hemophilia, the charity said in a statement.
Who is Hussain was working in partnership with the Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign — one of the country’s oldest Muslim blood donation organizations. There is also collaboration with the National Health Service’s Blood and Transplant Service, Red Cross and other centers across the world. In the UK, the organization campaigned in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Luton.
Who is Hussain, inspired by the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, was set up in 2012 by several young Londoners. Within a few years the charity went international with 66 teams helping those most in need with shelter, food and blood.
“Once we do this and hopefully we break the record, one thing we’ll definitely be doing is keeping blood donation on our books and trying to keep that message going. But secondly, we’ll be looking at where the next need is, where can we go and address that and build long-term structures to try and support communities,” he added.
Dr. Sana Zehra, a registrar at the accident and emergency center at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, said the attempt was important to raise awareness of the constant need for blood, that can be used for scientific research and to treat patients with various medical conditions including cancer.
She urged people from Black, Asian and minority communities to donate because of the presence of rare blood groups commonly found among them.
“Blood … is required by anyone and everybody, so if more and more people come up, it would be more of a mix and match and variety of blood products available, and that way we can serve our community and the place we live in more,” Zehra said.
One person, who asked not to be named, said he decided to donate after seeing the statistics and realized that one donation saves three lives; and that Islam teaches that “one life can save humanity.”