Among the many worthwhile causes that the Tariq Farid Foundation supports, some are more personal than others. A recent $10,000 contribution to the Life Foundation in Pakistan really hit close to home.
When I learned that support was needed to develop an app that could save thousands of lives every year by creating a system for safe blood donations and transfusions, I did not hesitate.
In Pakistan, blood transfusions can be costly. If someone cannot afford the cost they are unlikely to receive a transfusion, even in a life or death situation. It is estimated that as many as 12,000 to 15,000 people die each year in Pakistan that might have been saved had they had access to a blood transfusion.
Even in those situations when a family can afford a transfusion for their loved one, it is not guaranteed to be safe due to the potential for improper handling and storage.
A transfusion can result in shock or death, as I learned firsthand recently during a trip back to my native country.
Some of my family members had been involved in a terrible car accident in which two people died. One woman survived but was in critical condition when I went to visit her. She received a blood transfusion, but was given blood that had been improperly stored. She went into shock and almost died.
During this time I met Javaid Awan, a beloved local professor. Awan is battling cancer and has personally experienced the difficulty in securing blood for the transfusions during his treatment. He told me about a system he had developed through which mass emails and social media alerts would notify registered donors when a certain blood type was needed. Donors would then go to the hospital to donate blood which could then be transferred directly to the person in need.
When we talked, Awan already had hundreds of students from his university signed up as potential donors and he had created an NGO called the Life Foundation.
He says the contribution from the Tariq Farid Foundation truly is a lifesaver with global implications because this is not a problem limited to Pakistan. Many other countries face similar problems with blood storage and transfusions.
A majority of the gift to the Life Foundation will be used to develop an app for use on mobile devices and to recruit more volunteers and hospitals into the blood donation network.
The work has just begun, but I am very excited about the potential. Thanks to people like Awan, the citizens of Pakistan and other countries may soon have access to safe, untainted blood, and the unnecessary loss of life may soon become a thing of the past.