British Muslim charity breaks world record for most blood donations in a day

Show caption The Who Is Hussain team in Australia. Photograph: Who is Hussain Charities British Muslim charity breaks world record for most blood donations in a day The event was led by Who Is Hussain, a social justice charity that worked with NHS Blood and Transplant Aina J Khan Sat 17 Sep 2022 14.00 BST Share on Facebook

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A British Muslim charity has broken the world record for the largest number of blood donations in one day, months after the NHS urged more donors to step forward.

The volunteer-run world record effort was led in August by Who Is Hussain, a social justice charity that worked with NHS Blood and Transplant, as well as the Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign, one of the country’s oldest Muslim blood donation organisations.

As part of the campaign, called #GlobalBloodHeroes, blood donation centres across the UK – and dozens of other centres in 27 countries including Argentina, Iraq, and Thailand – collected blood from more than 37,000 people. Donations began at a centre in New Zealand and concluded in the US.

“The pandemic hit blood reserves across the world hard. With hospitals struggling to meet demands. Who Is Hussain volunteers rallied together and launched our Global Blood Heroes campaign,” said Muntazir Rai, the charity’s director.

Blood drive in Uganda. Photograph: Who is Hussain

“Donating blood is a universal act of compassion that can unite people all around the world – we all bleed the same,” he added. “We’re so excited that so many first-time donors came forward and many have committed to donating again and will continue to, hopefully, for years to come.”

Authenticated by the official world records, the total number of blood donations was 37,018, beating the previous record of 34,723 set in 2020.

One donation can help to save or improve the lives of up to three people, according to NHS Blood and Transplant, which means more than 110,000 lives could be saved or improved by the British charity’s efforts.

Blood donations from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in the UK are especially lacking. According to the NHS, people of BAME heritage are more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes and some forms of hepatitis than white people.

A donor in Paris, France. Photograph: Who is Hussain

Last year, fewer than 6% of NHS blood donors in the UK were from people from BAME backgrounds.

In June, the NHS announced that 1 million new blood donors were needed over the next five years, so that patients could receive the right type of blood, as blood donors and recipients from the same ethnic background are more likely to match.

The NHS said there was a particular need for more donors of black African and black Caribbean ethnicity to treat people with sickle cell, the fast-growing genetic blood disorder in the UK that affects mostly people of black heritage.

The #GlobalBloodHeroes campaign gained support from high-profile figures including LBC’s James O’Brien and Labour’s Naz Shah.

Team from Who Is Hussain in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photograph: Who is Hussain

Large numbers of first-time donors took part in the campaign, with 25% of UK donors giving blood for the first time, the charity confirmed, adding that the campaign was particularly successful in encouraging BAME donors to come forward.

The world record attempt coincided with Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, which is especially significant for Muslims who commemorate the legacy of Hussain, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, who was massacred with his family 1,400 years ago after he refused to give allegiance to a corrupt leader seeking to succeed his father.

“It’s incredible to think that the selfless altruism of this man, who lived over a thousand years ago, has inspired more than 37,000 people to participate in the biggest blood drive in history,” Rai added.