Randall Agee Interviews Malik Ahsan Ali, Creator of The Blood Community
Hello everybody, this is Randall Agee, and today I am going to interview Malik Ahsan Ali who lives in Pakistan. He has a project that he is very passionate about called The Blood Community. He aims to bridge the gap between those in desperate need of blood donations in Pakistan and the millions and millions of people in Pakistan that have blood to give.
Randall: Hi Malik, how are you?
Malik: Hi Randall, I’m fine and how are you?
Randall: I’m doing great and thank you for your patience as this is my first time to interview anyone on Facebook live. Thanks for your patience as we work out the kinks.
Malik: By the way, it’s my first interview on Facebook live as well. First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share my passion and what I have been doing for the last one year. I would like to introduce myself to the viewers. I am Malik Hasan Ali, the founder of CodeMatecs, which is an IT Company based in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Randall: Can you tell us a little bit about the massive need for blood donations in Pakistan?
Malik: Thank you, Randall, for featuring my article on www.gopakistan.com. In that article, I quoted that almost 38,000 blood bags are needed per day in Pakistan. That’s a huge amount, and this demand cannot be fulfilled by a patient’s family donations or paid donations. So we have to step up and present ourselves to get more blood donations.
See Related Article: The Desperate Need For Blood In Pakistan
The Blood Community is an app (see website: The Blood Community) that connects blood donors and blood seekers. Many other apps connect people to services, and we based this app on the same model. We hope that there are no more hurdles for patients to seek blood and that is the main reason for the development of this app. The need for blood is so high that it can’t be fulfilled without more volunteer blood donations. We need as much blood volunteer donors as possible.
The app is very simple. You can register yourself as a blood donor, and blood seekers can scan to find you in no time.
Randall: I want to dive into the actual Blood Community app shortly, but for now I want to ask more about the massive need for blood in Pakistan. It’s not only from trauma or accidents that people need blood, but people also need blood from other types of smaller incidents that may occur throughout their lives. I want people to realise that blood is not just required when a huge natural disaster, some huge horrible accident or some attack occurs; blood is needed all the time. Can you describe some of those instances where blood is needed on a more daily basis?
Malik: Oh yes sure. Definitely, blood is needed during natural disasters, but when we dive into it, we see that [a large] number of blood bags or pints are needed on a daily basis. For example, patients undergoing surgeries, some female patients delivering babies, premature babies, [are other examples of those needing] blood. Other than that the most [needful] of all are the thalassemia patients or the sickle cell disease patients. They need blood on a regular basis, and these people are the primary target of our Blood Community.
I will share a story from today, a little boy whose mother came to our office had been seeking blood for the last five days and couldn’t find it. He was a thalassemia patient, and one of our female team members donated blood to him. As a thalassemia patient, he needs blood transfusions at least twice a month. So this is a major need for which we have to donate more blood. All of the volunteer donors should come up and present themselves. You will be astonished to hear that the boy was lying [down] for 5 days when there was no blood available to him. After our team member gave blood to him, he was asking, “Will I be able to wear my new clothes on EID and things like that. He felt much better.
Randall: Absolutely, what you’re doing is saving lives. So this is such an important project that you have taken on. So one of the questions that I have is why did you take this on? Did you have some personal experience or a family member that needed blood? What has invoked this passion in you to start this project?
Malik: No I didn’t have any personal experience with it, but once I visited a hospital with my friends, and a small baby girl needed a blood transfusion. Her parents and family members were roaming about in search of blood. They were holding up pamphlets requesting B+ or O+ blood. So basically the passion behind this project was that I wanted to help provide blood to patients, so they don’t need to go anywhere else for blood. I don’t want them to have to go to blood banks or stand outside of universities or colleges holding placards. So that was the passion for developing this app to help the community.
Randall: That’s great. So what kind of response have you gotten so far from donors and from people that need blood? Is there an overwhelming response? I’ve seen some photos of you talking to large groups of people. What is the reaction of people so far?
Malik: To be very honest, it’s been one year since we published the app (May 8, 2017). From some places, we have gotten a good response, but from other areas, we have had some hurdles. Overall, we currently have almost 25,000 registered blood donors on our app, and they come from different cities of Pakistan. We also have ambassadors, that help bring awareness to our country’s need to donate blood. We have events and seminars at various colleges and universities, and we present the Blood Community app at tech conferences. We are trying to promote awareness of this social cause, because, that this is the need of the hour.
Randall: I agree and you know it’s imperative that people take this seriously and don’t wait until they need blood themselves. Be proactive with this and help other people that need blood donations. One of these days, who knows, you may need blood yourself. It would be a very terrible situation if you couldn’t find any for you or your family. Don’t wait until you need it before you start donating. So where can people go to learn more about this app?
Malik: We also have some ambassadors working for The Blood Community in the major cities of Pakistan. They are hosting awareness sessions in different towns and different colleges, and we are supporting them. Also, to let you know, this is a nonprofit organisation. We are running it without earning a single penny out of it. Inshallah, we will do it.
Randall: That’s amazing and running any non-profit you need some monetary donations to help get the message across. Do you have a donation page or some way for people to help you monetarily with this cause?
Malik: Not really, because currently this cause is supported and ran by CodeMatics, the IT company I founded. CodeMatics is funding this project with money and resources. Our ambassadors are doing the awareness sessions around Pakistan voluntarily. So currently we don’t have any donations right now.
Randall: Okay I would suggest that you set up a donation page so people can donate to help your cause. Because this is a cause of that everybody will need at some point in their lives. Whether it’s you individually or somebody in your family. Somebody you know is going to need blood. Just a few months ago my 82-year-old grandmother had heart surgery, and she needed a blood donation as well. I am very thankful to the donor.
I applaud your efforts, and I encourage other people that are watching this that have large audiences also to interview you and bring more awareness to your cause. Just the fact that you’re doing it as a non-profit is even more astounding, so thank you so much for that. Can you tell us what your vision is? What is your long-term vision for this project? What do you hope to accomplish? What do you think this project looks like five years from now?
Malik: Ultimately, I want to see blood donors be available just like if you hired a taxi from an Uber app. An ultimate goal is that there should be a surplus of blood donations and that you can see nearby blood donors on a map. I also hope that more people would be willing to present themselves to donate blood. These things are the ultimate goals that we are expecting.
See Related Article: The Desperate Need For Blood In Pakistan
Randall: That’s great. You did write an article for www.gopakistan.com, and I did feature that article. In that article on www.gopakistan.com, you will see the links to download the app for your Google phones or iPhones. Is there any other place that you want to talk about where people can go to sign up? Is there a website?
Malik: Those things are all on the www.gopakistan.com article and I shared the Facebook page there also. I also shared the website there, and the link to the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. That’s all that needs to be shared for the people. One thing that I would like to say to the viewers and the donors who are not donating blood, sometimes people don’t give blood because of some lame excuse, or they think they will have some medical issues. I want to let people know that blood donation is a secret to a healthy life as it protects your heart. It also protects you from a heart attack, it keeps you fit and you even can get a free health check-up. You can ultimately protect yourself from many diseases. In the article, I also mention the human body is a blood producing factory. It produces about 4 million red blood cells every two seconds, so you will fully recover from your blood donation in two weeks maximum. It is always good to donate blood.
Randall: How often can someone donate?
Malik: That’s a good question. A person can donate blood every three months. Another feature of our app is, if you donate blood then your name and phone number will be unavailable for a three month period. After three months, your name and your phone number will be available again, and people would be able to contact you. In the next phase, we are focused more on the thalassemia patients because they are the ones that need the blood most. So we are focusing on them and will add a portion in the app for them. We would like to volunteer donors to register themselves, and we will match several donors with one patient. This way they can fulfill the need of that patient on a yearly basis.
I would like to leave a message from my side to your viewers, that I would like to say, Randall, you are doing a great job. I really appreciate what you’re doing to portray a positive image of Pakistan throughout the world. It’s incredible what you are doing by writing articles [on www.GoPakistan.com] and encouraging Pakistan’s youth to pursue healthy activities.
Randall: Thank you very much. You know it’s been a passion of mine for a long time, sort of my passion project, to do this. I finally have the time and the resources to devote to doing it. So thank you very much for your encouragement, that keeps me going and wanting to do more. I also want to give you encouragement, because what you’re doing is amazing. You are helping to save lives, and that is a true higher calling that most people don’t step up to the plate to do. So I applaud your efforts, and I wish you the best. If there’s anything else I can do to help you promote your project, then I will do that.
Malik: Yeah sure, thank you so much for your great words. Donating blood is the best way to give something back to the community. It doesn’t cost you any money or anything else. It’s just your blood and donating is a potent, hardening and satisfying experience. I have donated blood, after we launched the app, three times within a year’s time. To be very honest, it was a great and satisfying experience seeing the patient and the family members saying thank you to me. You get a lot of inner satisfaction with that.
Randall: So in the app, you can see who you’ve helped? Because here [in the USA], you donate blood and you don’t know who ends up using the blood. So in the app, you’re able to see the people who are benefiting from your donation?
Malik: Yes, the app’s process is such that the blood seeker will be directly connected to the blood donor. The donor can see the patient and get the information about the patient. Then the donor will donate the blood directly to the patient with no blood bank involved. In this case, it’s a direct connection of blood donors to blood seekers
Randall: That’s interesting. That feature should motivate more people to give blood. Because whenever you give something blindly, it’s not as encouraging as when you can give and then see immediate results of your donation. So I mean that’s awesome, that’s way cool, and I like that a lot.
Again, I applaud you for your efforts, and I appreciate you coming on and talking to us about your passion project. I think this interview went very well for our first time
Malik: Oh yeah! Sure it was a good experience!
Randall: I hope you get a lot more interviews. I think this is a great cause and I hope to have you on again soon. That way we can see your progress. Thank you so much.