Father organizes blood drives

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Rasheed Markis (left) was involved in a serious car crash six years ago and needed 46 pints of blood. Now 18, he donated blood for the first time in a drive organized by his father, Bilal Markis (right). The blood drive was held in the Bay View Library’s community room Monday. Credit: Michael Sears.

By Matt Kulling

When Rasheed Markis was 12 and lying in the middle of Greenfield Ave., after being struck by two vehicles, he did not expect to live.

It was exactly six years ago, on the evening of Aug. 3, 2009. Rasheed and his brother, Elijah, were riding their bikes to their old neighborhood the day after moving to a new house. Elijah crossed the intersection at S. 16th St. and Greenfield during a changing red light. Rasheed waited about 10 seconds, crossed without looking and was hit by an SUV, thrown from his bicycle, then struck by a pickup.

After being given a 5% chance to live, losing several pints of blood, a kidney and part of his liver, breaking his pelvis and crushing a lung, Rasheed, now 18, has fully recovered. He’s married and has a child. On Monday he sat in a room at the Bay View Library with a bandage on his arm, donating blood for the first time to help those who might need blood like he did.

The blood drive was the 11th set up by Rasheed’s father, Bilal, in conjunction with the BloodCenter of Wisconsin. Bilal Markis calls the effort the Miracle Comeback in honor of Rasheed’s miraculous recovery.

Rahseed said he appreciates the efforts his family goes to in order to support the cause that saved his life, and he hopes his story will help others donate blood.

“I know that there are other people out there who need blood, and they deserve to have it,” Rasheed said.

Bilal said Rasheed’s situation showed him how important blood donation is and that his blood drives can make a difference.

“Our goal is to save one life, and we’ve done that,” Bilal Markis said. “Now we want to save more.”

The Miracle Comeback has already set up drives in Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Gambia and Barbados, and Bilal Markis said he hopes to get more set up across the United States and around the world. He hopes to organize four drives a year in Milwaukee.

The family is using the attention to do other things in the community, such as organizing neighborhood and bike safety events.

Elijah Markis, 22, joined his brother Monday in donating blood. They wore matching arm bandages. Elijah remembers the accident in flashes, but he quickly pivoted to the good his family is doing as a result of it.

“There are other people out there who need the same kind of help Rasheed needed,” Elijah said. “We’re saving people’s lives.”

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