Members of Catholic youth groups marked World Blood Donors Day on June 14 by organizing a a donation session at Caritas Pakistan in Lahore. Bishop Sebastian Shah of Lahore blessed the event, which was organized by the Archdiocesan Catholic Youth ministry. The Thalassemia Society of Pakistan facilitated the blood collection. Bishop Shah expressed concern at the growing number of Thalassemia patients and encouraged young people to donate, saying: “This is a practical step to combat deadly diseases. People are generally afraid to donate blood, fearing weakness. We must continue sharing this gift of life.” Some 80 participants later volunteered for donating blood. Father Ashraf Gill, youth director, joined them as Bishop Shah and others looked on while a nurse injected his arm. “I wanted to demonstrate to others and inspire them. Catholics must show love and care for others regardless of faith and religion. Who knows - my blood might even help a cleric some day” said Father Gill. The ministry later offered juice, biscuits and lunch to all the donors, some of them Muslims. Media reports put the number of Thalassemia patientis in Pakistan at around 100,000, whith an estimated eight million carriers of the disease, most of them poor. The Archdiocesan Catholic Youth ministry is preparing a list of blood-donor volunteers from every parish to call in case of emergency. It presently comprises 50,000 members in the archdiocese.