When I was 14, my sister, just a year older than I, underwent open heart surgery – her second heart surgery. I knew that she had used blood and there was a big “debt” to be paid in replacing it. While she was in the hospital, my brother had a fluke bicycle accident and was hospitalized 20 miles across town. It was an intense time, and all I could do was try to keep the home fires burning, supervise my 7-year-oldbrother, and try to manage a few things in the house while my parents were at work or at the hospitals . . . but I wanted to do something more meaningful. As soon as I was old enough, I started donating blood to the local blood bank to replace some of the units my sister had used, grateful that she was well and aware that my brother was fortunate not to have needed blood, too.
Over the years, relatives needed surgeries, friends had accidents, illnesses, and surgeries, and then I gave birth to very premature twins. All of these could have…and many did…required blood transfusions.
If your life has not included this much first-hand exposure to blood as a medical need, you may indeed see yourself as blessed or lucky.
But I, too, see myself as blessed or lucky – certainly not because of the illness, birth defects, prematurity, or other situations that made my life so full of this awareness – but because I had something I could share. I had an opportunity to DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL in response to these needs. I had blood in abundance, and with less than an hour of my time and the willingness to roll up my sleeve and endure the pinch of a needle being placed in my arm, I could actually make a huge difference in someone’s life – I might even save it!
Now, mind you, I don’t like needles any better than the next person, but if I ever got cold feet about donating, I could always remind myself that the recipient of that blood had a whole lot more needles and pain than those few seconds when I would experience anything unpleasant. It made me feel good to know that I could do something “important” for someone else who might be in the same position as my teenage sister or my 2-pound babies who received blood as an almost-daily treatment.
Donating has become a habit. In Luke 3:11, John taught that “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” I think the same can be applied to blood!
Dorothy Williams is a long-time First UMC member and has been one of the main coordinators of the Blood Drive for several years.
This article first appeared in the April 2016 Sentinel.
Learn more about the Health Ministry of First UMC.