x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

New UAE app makes it easier to give blood

MyVow was developed for Android phones by Hussam Mohsineh, a student at Khalifa University, and provides a more efficient way of managing voluntary work.

ABU DHABI // A new smartphone app developed in Abu Dhabi promises to make it easier to volunteer, give blood, or even sign up as an organ donor.

MyVow has been developed for Android phones by Hussam Mohsineh, a Syrian student at Khalifa University.

“It’s a free system for charity work,” said the 23-year-old student in communications engineering. “It provides a more efficient way of managing voluntary work.”

An active volunteer for the past five years, Mr Mohsineh has dedicated the past year to developing MyVow.

“I’ve been exposed to the organisational part [of volunteering] which is very old-fashioned and it’s not very efficient. So why don’t we use the available technology to improve it?”

Once a user creates a profile, the app notifies them of any organisations within a 20 kilometre radius that need help.

“It applies to charity work, blood donations, voluntary work, environmental and community projects as well as potential organ donors,” he said.

Volunteers can then ask to be directed to the organisation they want to help. “Any sort of organisation that provides services to the community can see how many views they got and how many applicants promised to come,” said Mr Mohsineh.

Details of the event can also be shared on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. “Once accepted, organisations can contact the person directly in case of emergency,” he added.

Each completed job gives users 50 points. The five volunteers with the most points will earn rewards such as gift vouchers.

It promises to be faster than existing appeals – particularly crucial when there is a need for blood of a rare type.

“The request will reach only volunteers from the hospital’s surrounding area, who have the same blood type and are within 20km,” said Dr Jamal Zemerly, the head of computer and software engineering at Khalifa University.

“There is a need to research what is happening now in hospitals to secure rare blood types and how easy or difficult it is.

“But with this app, hospitals can monitor rare blood types in their stores and can themselves request supplies.”

Currently, rare blood types can take time to find. But with the app,  said Dr Akhtarul Iman, a specialist in nephrology at Qassimi Hospital, “anybody can be called to donate blood. This can definitely help to get it quicker.”

Users can register through the app for an organ donor card, which they can print and keep with them should anything happen.

“These cards will save lives,” said Dr Zemerly. “Currently, there are many people who would like to be organ donors but are not provided with the opportunity to do so.”

Organisations including the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation in Saudi Arabia and the Environment Friends Society in Abu Dhabi have already expressed interest.

“It could really help,” said Khalid Alhosani, a board member at the Environment Friends Society. “It could be a more efficient way of reaching out to people.

“We have 1,000 volunteers in our database and we usually contact them via email, but it can take a lot of time and sometimes people don’t read emails or their addresses need to be updated. By using this, our contacts will not be lost and we can all work together.”

Mr Mohsineh hopes to sign up organisations such as the Red Crescent, Dubai Autism Centre, Dubai Cares, Takatof and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

“Anybody is welcome to join and once organisations support it, it will be available in the app store.”

He also plans to launch the app in Arabic and other languages and to make it available for the iPhone.

cmalek@thenational.ae