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For The Least of These

As I helped a young mother gather her baby’s things from the surgeon’s examining room, my heart ached for her tears, for the pain she carried of returning home without help.

What could I possibly do to make a difference? Sitting at the nurse’s station a few minutes later, the thought struck me.  I could give blood myself!

As soon as I had a chance, I ran down to the blood donation center and burst through their door with my offer. The nurse at the desk smiled at me apologetically. “I’m sorry.  You’re underweight.”  I was devastated.

You see, I work in a busy cardiac telemetry unit and we do open-heart surgery every day.  I marvel at the help we can give.  It’s rewarding.  But when we can’t help–which is far too often–it leaves me with a pain in my heart.

Families fly in or drive hundreds of kilometers across the country to bring their loved ones to us in hopes they can have surgery.  In hopes they can live a normal life.  I especially notice the children, the families who bring in little ones who were born with problems and already don’t have a normal life.  Without help they don’t have much of a future, if any.

Sometimes just mom will come with an eldest son or an uncle.  They make a very long trip fully expecting to get help for their little one. But open heart surgery is complex, it often means several stages of treatment, and it always requires blood.

Now, you need to know these families are far from home and relatives, far from anyone who might be personally interested. That alone is challenging for them, because family is their support system.  But worse for them in this situation, relatives are the most likely to have a compatible blood type.  Blood banks are often low.  There’s no blood.  And if there’s no blood.

Sometimes surgery is postponed until a later date, to give time to find donors.  But sometimes the dejected families just turn around and travel back home, with no prospect of hope.  I often wonder what will happen to the child, how life will go for them.  Or not go.

That’s when I wish I could do something.  And when the Blood Donation Center turned me down, I felt even worse.  Then a new idea struck me.

The next Sabbath I told the other believers about the families that come to our unit, the little ones who could have a whole life ahead of them,

My friends in Christ responded!  Our head elder was first on the list—a universal donor.  But as I continued to take names and blood types I realized to my joy that my church family is gifted! We have a lot of royal blood among us, a disproportionate number of universal donors. We are convinced this is our unique ministry.

My heart is no longer heavy.  I have seen God give us more opportunity than I ever envisioned the day I ran down to the Blood Donation Office to donate my blood.  God has opened up a new church mission for us, and we are giving life to little ones and loved ones who deserve life.  God’s work in Fatima’s life is very clear.  (See her story,  My Very Own Injil.)  Now He is offering life to her mother and showing His care for her whole family.

Here is a message I received from her recently, one fully illustrated with emojis of broken hearts, praying hands, and puzzled and weeping faces:
     Hi how are you? 
     I hope u r relaxed after ur tiring duty yesterday 

 I need some help 
     Can u find me blood donars? [sic]
     They said the sergury [sic] can’t be done without the blood
     At least 10 person 

     From where that I can get this number?  
As u know I am not from Jeddah

I was excited to be able to answer her immediately:
     I have a list of my friends that are willing to donate blood for your mother.

She responded:
     Thank you
     You don’t know how much I am thankful to know you

Of course I honestly felt honored to know her too:
     thank u

And she closed:
     I will never forget what u did for me
     God bless you.

Yes, God has blessed me.  He has blessed my church family.  And through us, we see Him blessing others like Fatima and the full circle of family and friends who are watching.  We are honored to be part of His healing, life-giving care.  –LS