The first bag of donated blood hanging from the IV pole grossed me out. The thought of someone else’s life force and cells rushing through Pedro’s veins seemed both miraculous and messy.
Sure, I’d given blood before—the first time as an impulsive act (the American Red Cross has hounded me regularly ever since). I saw the sign outside a building that said, “Give blood, give the gift of life,” and so I pulled into the parking lot and gave.
What it really meant to me was an extra hour of peace and quiet and some good snacks afterwards. I’m really not THAT shallow—no connection between the giver and the receiver existed to engender any real feelings about my ‘gift’. So I gave for silly reasons.
Now I know the importance of those ruby red donations—worth more than jewels and precious metals to the desperate and dying. I know that without those nameless donors, willing to sacrifice an hour of their time and a pint of their blood, Pedro (and countless others) would not be alive today.
Those who give platelets sacrifice even more: two hours attached to an apheresis machine, a needle sucking blood from one arm and returning it to the other arm. It’s not painful, it’s tedious and you can’t move the entire time (other than to gently squeeze a ball to help send the blood out).
Somewhere in my messed up photo files, I have a picture of Pedro’s brother, leaning back in a donation chair, arms outstretched and a nervous, vulnerable grin on his face. During Pedro’s illness, he religiously gave platelets and blood (as often as they’d let him), all because of love.
Pedro and I both walk through life now with a deeper sense of connectedness to unnamed people who gave. We feel a responsibility to be more, do more, to make his miracle count.
And always, thoughts of blood and sacrifice and vulnerable people in donation chairs bring memories of another man, arms stretched out, eyes full of love and pain and life-giving blood spilling down pierced hands and feet and side. The cross: miraculous and messy.And without his sacrifice, countless desperate people would continue living pointlessly. Click To Tweet
Red reminds me of the connectedness of the giver and the receiver. I may have never ‘seen’ the one who sacrificed, but I feel the effects of the transfusion in my life.
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