“You need to come on over to the student center,” my husband, Randy, spoke softly over the phone, the noises in the background almost overriding his voice. “The students are turning out like never before!”
“I can’t bring Andrew down there though, his counts are too low.” I responded. We’d already had a similar conversation earlier in the day. We were both awed and humbled at the turn out of the students of Milo Adventist Academy, where my husband served as principal and I taught Spanish. The Student Association held a Red Cross blood drive every year, but this year, they held it in honor of our four-year-old leukemic son.
“I know,” Randy said, still speaking so no one would overhear, “but the newspaper would like to interview Andrew.”
“What? The newspaper? Who called the newspaper?” I yelped.
“The Red Cross called. They’ve never had this percentage of students in a school respond to a blood drive before. It’s amazing Carol. Bring him down. Something good is coming out of leukemia. Right here, right now.”
We bundled up, I put a pale and tired little boy into our sanitized wagon, donned our face masks and I pulled the wagon down to the student center of the school. Two Red Cross buses idled in the parking lot and students milled around both outside and inside the building. I stared around me in awe as we wended our way through the groups of student, my little guy in the wagon getting high-fives and “way to go, buddy” comments.
The news reporter asked Andrew how he felt about all this blood donation. He looked around in confusion. A student walked up to Andrew’s wagon. He’d told me the day before that he was scared of needles. His face was a little green as he squatted next to Andrew. “I’m next Andrew. I’m doing this for you, but I don’t like needles!”
Andrew pulled his mask down slightly and very seriously said, “All you have to do is count to three and blow out hard and you’ll be fine. If you just hold still, it will be over fast.”
Tears gathered in my eyes. How many times had we had to practice that method of needle insertion to a frail little arm?
The Red Cross nurse called a name and the great big senior straightened. “That’s me. If you can do it, I can do it.” And he disappeared inside the bus to donate blood.
The next day Andrew was on the front page of the newspaper, along with the senior donating blood. Andrew’s blood was unhealthy, but because of that 78% of the student body donated blood that day (the percentage includes those who were too young to donate) and who knows how many lives were helped.
Check out more stories from 31 Days of Unexpected Blessings from Caregiving
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