Positive Muslim News

News about good things Muslims are doing in North America and around the world.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Muslim teen inspires bone marrow drive

When doctors diagnosed Bilal Mallick with leukemia in January, they told his parents a bone marrow transplant often presented the best chance for survival and a cure.

But of 9 million potential donors on the national registry, only 160,000 are South Asian, making the likelihood of finding a match unlikely.

So as Bilal, 15, began his first round of chemotherapy at Advocate Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn last month, his congregation at the Islamic Foundation of Villa Park set out to save his life, spawning a movement in mosques across suburban Chicago and the nation.

On Friday, hundreds of Chicago area Muslims will flock to mosques in Villa Park, Des Plaines and Naperville to participate in weekly congregational prayers. They also will have the opportunity to swab their cheeks and add their names to the roster of bone marrow donors ready to step up if their DNA is a match.

Unable to fight off a sudden infection, Bilal died Sunday before many of the drives could take place. His unexpected death has fueled the urgency of the cause for the Muslim community.


But a nonsurgical innovation in bone marrow harvesting has made it more acceptable and even encouraged, said Sheikh Abdool Rahman Khan, resident scholar at the Islamic Foundation of Villa Park, where Bilal's family worships.

"Saving one life is like saving humanity. So we see the saving of a life any way we can so long as our life is not endangered," Khan said.


"He was just darling," said Spanish teacher Emily Bishop, who received one of those texts, adding that he walked into her class every day eating a sandwich. "Whatever he had, he shared. He shared his heart. He shared his sandwich. He shared his smile. That's how he lived his life"

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