By Grahame Anderson

Members from Newcastle Upon Tyne’s Tahweeh Islamic Centre have been giving blood to help promote blood donation from the Muslim community.

In fact, dozens of Muslims made themselves available hoping to both set a positive example and help the general community around them.

October 8th marked 40 days after the Day of Ashura, when Hussain ibn Ali was martyred in the Battle of Karbala. He was of course the grandson of the prophet Muhammad who sacrificed his life for social justice.

The selfless act was all part of one month’s remembrance in tribute to the sacrifice made by Hussain ibn Ali. It’s called Muharram with the goal of encouraging everyone to help the needy.

Blood Donor Shortage

At the current time only six per cent of blood donors are from Asian and ethnic communities. It’s a shortage worry for the NHS as almost 400 new donors are needed every day to keep this priceless system working efficiently.

“Blood donation is a way for us to honour the sacrifice made by Hussain ibn Ali and to help those in need,” said Sheikh Meisam Ghasemi, director of Tawheed Newcastle Islamic Centre on the city’s Bentinck Road.

He added “Giving blood is quick, safe, and clean, and the whole donation process is easy. We want to encourage donors from all backgrounds and hope that this group session will become a regular event.”

One of the volunteers Kamran Haider explained: “We are the followers of Holy Prophet Muhammad and to commemorate his martyrdom we are encouraged to go on that day and give the donation of blood.

“In our religion during Muharram, we are encouraged to help those in need and we want to help save people’s lives by doing donating blood.

“However, more awareness is needed in our community about donating in order to help others and to help more members of our community revive memories of the grandson of the Holy Prophet.”

Community Request

The donor centre in Newcastle have told us more blood donors from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are needed to help patients like seven-year-old Shaylah, who has a rare condition and needs regular blood transfusions, even over Christmas, to keep her alive.

She requires blood transfusions every three weeks to treat the painful inherited blood disorder, sickle cell disease. The youngster had a stem cell transplant from her mum in April but complications mean she is unwell again and currently having regular transfusions.

She says: “It makes me feel better because sometimes I get really tired and once I get my super girl blood I feel strong like supergirl!

Blood donors are my heroes. I would say a big big thank youuuuuu!! Thank you for being so kind and not being scared of needles like me and I would give them a cuddle for being so kind and chocolate because I love chocolate.”

With sickle cell and thalassaemia, more prevalent within these communities. And, some rare types are also only found within these communities. Patients who require regular blood transfusions benefit from receiving blood from donors with a similar ethnic background.

Newcastle Donor Centre Invitation

Lynn Woods, Newcastle Donor Centre manager, said: “We are very grateful to Sheikh Ghasemi and everyone at the Tahweed Newcastle Islamic Centre for making their first donations.

“Blood donation saves lives and to supply hospitals we need people to donate through the year.

“It’s easy to register to become a donor, we need nearly 400 new, first time donors every day to meet patients’ needs, to replace those people who can no longer donate for reasons such as ill health, age and pregnancy.

“Our donor centres are the perfect place to make your first donation, they are colourful and modern with Wi-Fi, charging points, and you can often find appointments in the evenings and weekends.”

Did you know male donors can donate more often than women, or Ro blood is needed and a common type for black donors? Hospitals need O negative donors regularly, as it can be given to all patients. The clear message is please register if you are in one of these groups.