Shaykh Jamaal Registers to Be a Marrow Donor!


On August 30 th 2013, A3M received an email from Maryam Sana asking for help to save her life. Asking to search the US registry for a marrow donor for her. Twenty-three-year-old Maryam was desperate and informed us that she was suffering from aplastic anemia for over two years. As no one in her family was a match, she was in need of a matched donor urgently, to have a potentially, life-saving bone marrow transplant. Only 30% of the patients find matches within their family. The other 70% depend on unrelated donors, most likely from the patient’s own ethnic group.

A3M decided to take action and communicated with the patient, who is overseas, via Skype. Maryam was very open about taking her story to the community/media, as she also realized that there are many other patients like her, who are in need of a life-saving match.

A3M approached several local mosques for an opportunity to conduct donor registration drives on behalf of Maryam and many others like her, and register donors from the community. The response was positive, yet lukewarm. We continued to reach out to the decision makers and the media in the community and were able to conduct a drive at the Garden Grove Mosque, registering 3 people as potential donors. The Pakistan Link published an article about Maryam’s story, too. Finally, just before Christmas, we had an opportunity to speak to Shaykh Jamaal of the Irvine Mosque. It was refreshing to know that he was not only willing to help, but was also open to spreading the word about the need for marrow donors in the community, prior to the day of the donor registration drive. The drive was set for Friday, January 3 rd 2014.

When we met Shaykh Jamaal to finalize the drive details, we noticed that he fits the ideal donor demographic (Age: 18 to 44) and could be a possible match for a patient. We asked if he would be interested in joining the registry. Although he was willing to participate, he indicated that he was still thinking and wanted to make sure that he was committed to the program before he registers.

On the day of the drive, we approached him again and that is when he informed us that he is willing to register as a potential donor. He told us that he is registering so he can possibly save someone’s life and added, “I would like to encourage people to register as well. It is important for us to cultivate softness in our hearts for people who are going through tough times and do what we can to help them.”

Later that day Shaykh Jamaal came to the registration booth to complete the registration form and provide cheeck swab samples for testing. He is now a part of the Be The Match Registry. If he is match for a patient, he will receive a call from a local donor center. Who knows, he may be a life-saver some day!

For more information about how to become a marrow donor or learn more about how to host a donor registration drive, please call (888) 236 4673 ext: 104 or visit our website at

Shaykh Jamaal is the Resident Scholar at ICOI since July 2012. He teaches weekly classes for the ICOI community, works with the youth groups, mentors community members and is active in interfaith and other local area events. He can be followed on Twitter @jamaaldiwan

At ICOI, 47 people registered to be marrow donors, giving new hope to patients in need. We hope that Sheykh Jamaal’s example goes a long way to help recruit more donors in the community.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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