Sunday, January 31, 2010

Give Blood and Give Life!

My article for promoting Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and their many efforts to help save people's lives!

In the dark corners of a hospital room a nurse yanked off her rubber gloves after administering Yousuf’s very first blood transfusion. It was late and already dark outside while we all sat in the emergency room surrounding Yousuf’s bed as he lay there exhausted falling asleep from a long day. The lights were off, in pursuit to provide Yousuf as much comfort as the situation would allow. There we sat, with nothing but the lights of all the monitors from the infusion tower. I glanced over and saw the reflections from the lit up monitor screens staring back at me from his father’s glasses. He sat reclined with his head facing towards The All-Merciful. Surely, that is the only one we could call on for support in such a time as this.

After hearing our son’s diagnosis of leukemia, we continued listening, as the doctor sat in the chair next to us, illustrating for us the next few days. The more the doctor talked the harder it became to listen. We were having a difficult time absorbing the first part of the news: the cancer part. My eyes darted from the doctor back to his father and saw the reflections from his glasses enhance the wetness under his eyes. He was biting his bottom lip and just kept his gaze upward.

Yousuf, like any other vibrant 3 ½ year old, normally, was always full of energy, excited to see other kids his age and loved to play with his baby brother. His favorite toys were anything about transportation: Trains, cars, airplanes…you name it! He enjoyed sea animals and climbing. He’s famous for the best greeter. If he knows you well and hasn’t seen you for a while he screams your name and stretches his arms out wide! His smiles and laughter can brighten any room.

It had been several days that I saw a huge change in Yousuf’s behavior. He was not wanting to walk, acting antisocial, crying from being anywhere but home, and complaints of being cold in the summer heat. I couldn’t understand what the matter was since he didn’t seem to have any cold or flu symptoms. A disease steadily attacking and killing off his blood cells certainly did not cross my mind. His blood count was so low that the doctor was surprised he could walk at all. His face was ghostly white with the only color to him being the redness under his eyes. I am amazed how I didn’t recognize it before. My son was dying. He was slowly deteriorating by loss of blood gradually draining him of life little by little.

The very next day in the hospital, during his 4th or 5th blood transfusion, I sat there next to his side trying to face the reality of the situation. It was at that time a lady came in. We had many visitors, mostly doctors and nurses, but this lady didn’t seem to be interested so much in getting Yousuf’s attention as she was trying to gain mine. She sympathized with me, of course, and then she went on to start to explain the pamphlet she was holding in her hands. She told me, “If someone asks you how they can help, tell them THIS is how.” And she handed me the pamphlet about giving blood. At the time, I could not think about anything but my son and my own emotions but I tucked it in my binder, with every intention of pulling it out one day eager to give back.

If it wasn’t for a sufficient amount of blood in the bank, Yousuf may not be alive today. The normal hemoglobin count for a boy Yousuf’s age is between 11.5 and 14. When we arrived to the Emergency room Yousuf was at a 2. In effort to bring the very essence of this little boy and the vivacity back into his veins, Yousuf underwent many more transfusions over the first phase of therapy. He continues to depend on the donations of others blood to keep him alive through his battle of leukemia.

I know that many of us cringe when seeing a needle. The experience of being pricked and poked doesn’t send a surge of excitement or joy through our veins rather puts a strain on our comfort and a feeling of uneasiness. For many people, including Yousuf and many kids just like him, they don’t have a choice. They can’t just ignore it and say no, their life depends on it. Their life also depends on those who overlook their fears, ignore the small price of a tiny poke, and enjoy the thought of what their action is doing.

Starting from that night of my son’s very first blood transfusion, until today, donors continue to sustain my son’s life and others like him. Each time a person dedicates a portion of their blood, know that in some dark corner of a hospital room it’s saving someone’s life….Just as it did for my son that night.


  1. I've always wanted to give blood, way before Hishaam's diagnosis, but guess what? I DON'T WEIGH ENOUGH!!!!
    Reading your post today though has made me think i'd better persuade my husband!!
    There's nothing better than the feeling that one has helped someone...

  2. Yeah, I didn't weigh enough either. Here you have to be 110 lbs but I only weighed 102 lbs. So I made every effort (maybe for the first time in my life) to gain a little weight just so I could give blood! What are the requirements there? Weight and age?

  3. weight at least 7 stones 12 (i'm 7 and half), age 17-65..and also i can't donate cause i've had a transfusion!!
    good luck, i hope you do manage to gain a bit of TEMPORARY weight and are able to donate iA!
    I'd also like to thank you for your blog.. it has helped me sooo much to deal with Hishaam's leukemia....
    I've looked back at all your posts during the intensive..I hope and pray iA the whole thing is easy on H!
    Hope all is well with Yousuf

  4. Salam UmmYousuf
    Reading your story and your struggles keeps me very humbled and awed by your strength and resolve. May Allah give Yousuf complete recovery with no trace of sickness. May Allah give you and Abu Yousuf strength and patience to endure. I hope you and Yousuf are both doing well. Would love to come visit, please let me know.
    Samira Ismail