the gift of blood

16 Jul

At dinner one evening, Courtney mentioned that she wished she knew someone with B positive blood. I turned and looked her square in the eyes and said, “Lovey! I’m B positive.” She then informed me that there was a patient with tuberculosis in the isolation ward that needed B positive blood and asked me to donate.

Since I am pretty much a champion at third world blood donation (see my donation from a couple years ago: red cross), I got up from the dinner table and went straight to the hospital. I walked right up to the laboratory and told them that I have B positive blood and was ready to donate. They took me in, sat me down, stuck a needle in my arm, and started drawing blood. There was no machine to help mix up the blood, so the lab tech simply patted the bag with his hand every 30 seconds or so. There was no scale to determine how much blood I had given, so the lab tech just guesstimated and stopped when the bag looked full. Again, no cookie, no juice, no t-shirt.


When I had finished donating, the lab tech asked me and Adam if we wanted to see the malaria parasite under the microscope.

The science teacher in me was pretty excited.

The son of a microbiologist in me was questioning, ‘Can the malaria parasite pass into an open wound in a lab with numerous slides of malaria?’

The scientist reassured me, ‘No, I think the parasite needs a vector.’

The son of a microbiologist: ‘Who is this random old lady who just wandered through the front door of the lab with a slip of paper in her hand?’

Me: ‘This is Africa.’

Anyways, we took a look at the tiny parasite, and then headed home.

Marie (another volunteer here) and Courtney both donated their O positive blood to a patient as well. Marie told a story of how the lab tech asked if she was a good kisser about half way through her donation, which made for an awkward situation. Courtney had to be stuck four different times, twice in each arm, and said that this was one of the most painful experiences that she has ever been through. Despite their setbacks, they were able to save a life through their giving of blood.

The connection here is pretty straightforward, because after donation you simply walk your bag of blood over to the patient in need of blood. You can even watch the nurses hook up the blood to the patient.

Although we all came out healthy (we hope) in the end, giving blood in a developing country feels a bit more intense than it does when we give in the States. Even while they obtain the blood in a sterile fashion, there’s always a doubt in our minds — is this safe? Will I get a disease after doing this? Then, there’s the one, two, or four sticks with a very large needle… and then moving the needle when the blood stops flowing to try and get that needle back in the vein.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.  And we through his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins!  But he was wounded and crushed for our sins.  He was beaten that we might have peace.  He was whipped, and we were healed!  Isaiah 53:4-6

– Aaron

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