We see it so often in America, the friendly American Red Cross employees with a syringe in one hand, a cookie in the other, ready and willing to take your blood. To place in a bag, put in a freezer and await usage when someone needs it. We walk in because of peer pressure, a bribe of some sort or because it’ll get us brownie points for extracurriculars and walk out with a smile, a sticker and a cookie. It is sterile, well run and you can chat all day with the nurses as they smile while you lay on a bed for 30 minutes.
The phone rang yesterday. Immediately dropped my plans and high-tailed it to the hospital. In a flurry of chaos, white lab coats and three foreign languages, I was told to sit. Needles sticking, centrifuges whirring, microscope slides being prepped all around me. Felt the short sting and glide as the wine colored liquid escaped me and then I waited. I watched as a toddler gave his blood unwillingly and as epicly stoic faces bore the seconds ticking on into minutes, awaiting the final say. Would they be found out that they have HIV? Would they be a match for their relative’s blood type to give them a potential at living life a bit longer? And then, how will they deal with the shame? The fear?
I find myself becoming anxious as I wait myself. Praying I am a match. Struggling to communicate with the lab tech, we introduce ourselves and I explain what I am doing. He says a whole lot that I don’t understand and I smile and nod. After what seems like forever, I am handed several pieces of paper, giving me more information.
You see, a fourteen year old boy had been bitten by a snake. He was bleeding so much that he was already running out of the blood from 3 of his family members who had already given. He needed blood. And he needed it now. Seeing his name, blood type and list of family members who had given and then at the bottom, my name, added to the list, with my blood type.. and the word “compatible” written next to it. Relief blanketed me as I made my way to the maternity ward.
We entered the storage room in the Maternity ward, filled with several bassinets and equipment and I was instructed to lay down. I found it ironic that in the place in which I was giving life to someone, there was equipment to assist with new lives.
Several attempts were made to find my small little veins. Poked, prodded, stabbed, bleeding. I bit my tongue and curled my toes as I laid there sweating in the over 100 degree heat. They tried and tried and at one point I had 4 or more medical professionals standing over me, desperate for a lifeline. But to no avail. I prayed and asked the Lord that they would find it, because I saw that name. I heard the story. I could almost tangibly feel his situation. So I could help save him.
In those moments of lying there, I thought about it; just as the patients awaiting their “sentence” at the lab, we sit awaiting our final verdict from heaven. We are ashamed of our bad blood, of our stigma, of our uncleanliness. We are desperate for a transfusion. Of life, of pure blood, to save us from our impending death. And yet, Jesus willingly gave that blood. He gave until he literally had nothing left. He saw the long list of our names. He saw beyond the letters and saw our lives. Our hearts. And he cried “Father, forgive them! They don’t know what they are doing!!” And he still gave that priceless blood and free opportunity to nullify our sin, shame and dishonor.
Not long after getting up off that bed, I heard of the boy’s death.
Next time you give, remember the real people. And remember their need of our Savior.