"We Be One Blood, Thou And I!": Kyiv Muslims Are Unpaid Donors

Active Donor’s Card
Tetyana Evloeva and vitlana Utvenko, Head of Donors Communication Department
Tetyana Shcherbak, Muslimah, Kyiv ICC employee
"We Be One Blood, Thou And I!" — another bracelet from Tetyana Evloeva's collection
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This famous phrase from “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling has not only metaphorical sense, but the most literary meaning today, for dozens and hundreds of Ukrainians can address these words to blood donors who helped saving their lives and health. Unfortunately, number of donors decreased greatly in our country, and poor health of our countrymen is among other reasons, so every donor is literally precious. No secret that widespread pernicious habits (alcoholism, smoking, sexual promiscuity, couch-potato lifestyles) by no means can improve the situation and shortens the list of potential donors.

Despite all that, Ukraine has donors, and not only those who donate their blood on occasions when their relatives or friends need it, but also those who share a part of themselves in order to save people they don’t even know. Kyiv Muslims are among such selfless donors.

According to Ms.Tetyana Evloeva, one of the followers of Islam, she donates her blood since 2012 about two times per year, and she was initially inspired to do so after she learned that one little Oncology patient needed blood:
— I came across a message from one of Children’s Oncology Hospital volunteers, saying that “Donors are wanted! A child is dying, and there’s no blood to save him!”
They needed a different blood type back then, but still I decided to learn why the little boy found himself in a situation like that, when his life depended on finding a blood donor fast enough.

After this Tetyana, being a journalist, turned herself onto this topic and found out that things were not so good. Put it simply,the situation is quite sad:

— A made a sort of “Journalistic investigation” and contacted the Children’s Oncology Hospital volunteers and Kyiv City Blood Centre. I asked them a lot of questions (and I’m very thankful for the time and efforts they spent to help a strange person understand the situation, without even knowing if I don’t dissapear before doing anything), and I decided there has something to be done about it.

And as I don’t consider promoting anything I haven’t done myself as something normal, I approached the Blood Centre and became a donor myself. This allowed me to see personally that donating blood is absolutely safe for the donor, as all the equipment is one-use, and you go through health-screening procedure before donating blood, so when the doctors have a slightest doubt about whether it can cause you the smallest harm, they’ll never allow you to donate on that day.

Some Time later, Teyana managed to involve her adherents and office mates from kyiv Islamic Cultural Centre. After she saw in the news that some organisation invited medical officers mobile team from the Kyiv City Blood Centre and the whole staff donated blood right in the office, she turned on the heat to invite doctors to the ICC and was supported wholeheartedly by her colleagues. Besides, Muslims are meant to be great donors!

— We thought “If we are not good enough for that — who is?” For we, as they say, are only fitting: we stand for more or less healthy living for religious reasons, so why not share something we have with those who desperately need it? Besides, the Holy Qur’an has that verse: “...And whoever saves one life — it is as if he had saved mankind entirely” — thus, the reward on the Day of Judgement is equal as for saving all the people on the planet!

Today Tetyana donated her blood again, and received the “Active Donor’s Card” — as she wrote ironically on her facebook page, “Today I went to Kyiv City Blood Centre with Tanya (Ms.Tetyana Shcherbak, another ICC employee); today I made an honest donor and applied for Active Donor’s Card...”

It’s notable that the young Muslim woman has a great gratitude for Kyiv City Blood Centre Medical Staff: “My dear KCBC doctors, you are the only medical staff I know whom I attend eagerly again and again! Thank you for the positive mood I always have when attending your Centre!...
...Ms Svitlana Utvenko, Head of Donors Communication Department, walks through the corridor, sees you and says with pure joy: “Oh, I’m so happy to see you, tanya, dear!”, and then you enter the operating room and face the same reaction… Cow can I possibly not love you all, when you all remember and love me?
”— the young Muslim woman writes.

According to her, she feels great after donating blood, not only for some euphoria every donor feels because of a slight blood loss:
— I think my good mood comes mostly from the KCBC medical staff, because they are really wonderful. From my very first visit, I was impressed to see the touching care they had for me. They care for each donor and almost walk you from one office to another hand in hand, ask if you’re feeling fine many times, both before the donation and after, — every medical worker you meet on your way asks you if you feel alright, even if it’s the first time they see you on that day. Perhaps, that because I’m an unpaid donor… But I never noticed them acting different when dealing with paid donors, to be honest…

I told them once, that they were the only medical stuff I was really glad to see often, as when you come to local polyclinic, you want to die as soon as possible, get wrapped in your shroud and be buried in peace, such a bad attitude you face there. hey laughed: “Who would come to donate blood if we treated our donors badly?”

They were very understanding when I told I can’t take my headscarf off before entering the operational office for religious reasons; they sent me for an interview with Ms Svitlana Utvenko, Head of Donors Communication Department, I explained the situation and she allowed me to keep my headscarf on. I just put a surgeon’s cap on atop the headscarf before entering the operating room and both their medical and my religious demands are satisfied.

Well, I’m always in good spirits after seeing them, not only on the donation day, but always, no matter why I came — to get my blood test results or for other business. And, of course, it’s so nice that they remember me despite seeing a lot of people every day and greet me by the name; they remember what happened on our last rendezvous and ask how am I doing.

Tetyana and her fellow Muslims never accept money for donating their blood. According to her, the Muslims literally DONATE their blood:
 — Of course, we never get paid for our blood, both for humanitarian and religious purposes, God Almighty gave us our bodies and all the organs to use for free, and I have no right to injure my body on purpose or sell some parts of it for replacement!

The young woman doesn’t plan to abandon donating blood any time soon:
 — Of course I want to donate my blood as long as possible, before the kids aren’t expected (pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers can’t donate blood) and while my health allows. For this is not at all difficult for me, and it’s a lifesaving act for some other person. Besides, I benefit as well, both on the Day of Judgement and in this earthly life: it appeared that donating blood launches donor’s body rejuvenation processes. Besides, my husband totally supports me in this initiative (thank God and thank my husband, he always supports my initiatives unless he sees some sort of harm in them that I didn’t notice). What he likes the most is that I managed to involve other people in donating blood. He thinks that’s a very good initiative and is happy to see its success.

Tetyana says that every Blood Donation benefit at Kyiv ICC gathers many poeple:
 — About 40 to 50 people come every time, but unfortunately not all of them are found eligible during preliminary examination. So, 22 succesfully donated their blood on our first event, 17 on the second and 26 on the third, which was this winter. I was really impressed by a young man who wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday by donating his blood (the benefit happened to be on the very same day), but, unfortunately, he was told he could never be a donor for medical reasons. Only seeing im grieve have I realized how badly he wanted it. At this, last time thanks to informational support from the “Crimea_SOS” project,  non-Muslims joined the benefit as well, and I was really happy to see it.

According to Mrs.Evloeva, there are active donors in their office: Ms.Tetyana Shcherbak, Mr.Oleh Guzik, Mr.Islyam Gimadutin, Mr.Vasyl Bilyk, Mr.Vitalii Verteletskii, Mr.Sohail Afzal, Mr.Wael Al-Bekhesi, Mr.Tariq Sarhan, the Al-Hallaq family, Abdullah and Nataia, Mr.Hussam Issa, Mr.Ismail Qady and many others:
 — many people who helped me start this initiative already left the country; hose were students from Arab country that graduated from Ukrainian Universities and left for their Homeland. For instance, Mr.Thair Attawneh or Mr.Raqan Rabbai… They left about a year ago, having left a part of them here in the most literary meaning of these words: people are already in other countries, and their blood keeps living in Ukraine, running through the veins of other people… This is wonderful when you think about it!

Kyiv Muslims already gained good reputation, and sometimes they deal with people searching donors for their relatives directly:
 — It happened so that different people heard something about us, so they approach Shaikh Said Ismagilov (Mufti of Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine) from time to time, and he redirects them to me, and I explore my donor lists and call people with respective blood type to ask them if they can become donors at the moment. I really hoped we managed to help someone in crucial situation. And then again, many of our donors share their blood beyond our benefits as well. Tanya (Shcherbak), for instance, is a constant visitor to Children’s Oncology Hospital — she justs runs across the ads “donors needed” and goes.

Answering the question whether their promotional campaign is because of the war going on in the Eastern regions of ukraine, Tetyana Evloeva said:
 — You see, there was a lack of donors long before the war emerged. Our first benefits were meant to help children fighting oncology, and last time we donated our blood for the ATO (“Anti-Terrorist Operation”) soldiers. But overall, but donors are needed no matter if the war is over or not; the war just made the problem even more crucial, for many soldiers and peasants are wounded.

As there is no State programme for promoting blood donation, we do everything possible to keep this matter on the agenda. For, I think, we have a lack of donors not because our people are greedy and don’t want to share their blood, but rather because people just don’t know that blood is needed always. Let me explain: when we had the latest Maidan or some great military action in the ATO zone, the volunteers all over the country called upon people to come and donate their blood, and people eagerly came, there were large queues, so little towns with no ability to store large amounts of blood just sent the potential donors away, explaining that they’ve collected a large supply of blood over a short period of time and simply can’t collect more, technically.

But when there’s no emergency, people think that there’s no problem either, for the State doesn’t ring the alarm. Most people realize that the problem exists when something happens to their relatives or friends. As I’ve said already, I learned about the lack of donors by mere chance.

 — Our next blood donation benefit is to be held, God willing, here at ICC on September 11, I just arranged it with KCBC earlier this day. Detailed information on that is to be published on our Facebook page in the nearest future.

Tetyana Evloeva and her fellow-thinkers developed the full list of recommendations and contraindications in a special brochure for Donors (in Russian). The brochure also depicts spiritual aspect of the mater, explaining why becoming a donor is a great good for the followers of Islam, and that the Muslims must help not only their brothers and sisters in faith, but people of other religions as well. One can learn from this brochure how to prepare for blood donation, what their diet should and should not include two days prior the donation, etc. The forword ends with Shaik Said Ismagilov’s appeal “And may every adult and helthy Muslim, male or female, e a donor for at least once in their life, for the sake of Allah Almighty… And whoever make more than that — the Lord will reward them much more!”

Ms Svitlana Utvenko, Head of Donors Communication Department, said that their cooperation with Islamic Cultural Centre lasts for years, and it started thanks to Ms.Tetyana Evloeva:
— She’s an extraordinary unshadowed and positive and nice person, open for communication! She approached us and not only became a donor herself, but proposed cooperation, having organized her colleagues and adherents — we came directly to the Kyiv ICC at 25a Dehtyarivska Street and collected their blood. People are wonderful there; they understand the true value and meaning of unpaid blood donation, and share their blood eagerly, not asking for gratitude. This is very important, as donor’s emotions mean a lot.

Muslims often come beyond their benefits, not because some relatives or friends are in danger, but because they just want to do good. My dear Tanya, too, came to us today without any personal reason, You know what they say — build a house, plant a tree and give birth to a son — but even one blood donation can do much more, for it literally is lifesaving. And every saved person is like being re-born, so our donors beat the son-birthing target many times!

Tetyana and her colleagues are really unselfish people; moreover, they thank us for providing them with an opportunity to be useful for other people, and you should see how upset are those of them who are rejected for some reason! We really appreciate our cooperation and hope that it’ll last for very, very long, — Svitlana Utvenko says.

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