A call to save someone’s life

Columban lay missionary Gertrudes C Samson lives and works in Birmingham. She details her first blood donation and hopes to be able to donate again in a few month's time.

“Please give blood, you can save someone’s life.” This is always the constant call of National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant in front of their donation centre in Birmingham, Britain.

Some people are uncomfortable when they hear the word “blood.” But for Christians, our faith was founded in the blood of Jesus Christ. During the Eucharist, while partaking of the wine, we always say, “Blood of Christ. Amen!” as we pass the cup of wine to each person. Indeed! I believe Jesus gave His blood to save us all when He shed His blood on the cross. As for me, donating blood is my way of passing His love and blessing of healing to others. He is the one who inspired me to do it.

I have passed that Donation Centre in New Street probably a thousand times in my almost 10 long years here in Birmingham when on my way to my different ministries around the city. Ironically, only several years ago during the time that I was not well while on mission, did it catch my attention. I was not well at that time, and because of that, the blood iron levels became very low.

Despite feeling that my energy was being drained more each day, and my concern that I may not finish my mission term, I never missed a day in my ministries; I always put on a cheerful face. Each time I passed that sign, I would say to God: “Lord, please heal me. How can I do my mission and serve you well if I am like this? Lord, when you shed your blood you saved us all. I prefer to shed my blood for a good reason too. Heal me please, I prefer to donate my blood at that donation centre and save someone’s life.”

Thanks be to God, He heard and answered my cry! He healed me! I believe through the power of the prayers of my relatives and friends, water from the spring of our Lady of Lourdes from France given to me by a friend, and with the help of my doctors who prescribed me a high dosage of iron and performed a medical intervention, I became completely well.

When I started to recover my energy little by little, every time I passed that sign in front of the donation centre, I would say to God, “Lord, thank you for healing me. I still remember my promise and what I said, that I would donate my blood at the donation centre and save someone’s life.”

Finally, with prayers, moral support, and encouragement from my relatives and friends, I was able to gather enough courage to make my first blood donation. One of the instructions from the NHS was to bring a book or a friend on the day of the donation. I asked my friend Regina to accompany me. I thank God for giving me a supportive and caring friend to accompany me that day.

Ger during her blood donation.

On the day of the donation, Regina and I prayed to God together that everything would go well. This was my prayer: “Lord, let the blood that flows out of me be your blood that would channel your healing and blessing for those who receive it.” I read an article that said a single blood donation can potentially save three lives. This is because the blood could be processed to separate it into its three components: red blood cells, white blood cells, and plasma, which could then be issued depending upon the need of a particular patient. I was really amazed that my single donation could potentially save not just one person, but three!

Donating blood has other health benefits as well. I was amazed to learn that as I try to bless others, it will bless me in return. After donating, the blood is checked for diseases to ensure that it is safe to use. It’s like having a comprehensive health check-up each time a person donates!

After an initial blood test, the nurse told me that my blood content was really good. The staff assured me and Regina not to worry and that the process would only take about seven minutes.

I am so thankful to God that everything went very well with my blood donation which took less than the time allotted, and I felt fine afterwards. That night, I had a very good and restful sleep. A few days later, on my birthday, I received a thank you message from the NHS informing me that my blood was ready to help a patient. It was a great birthday gift and blessing from God, both for me and for those who will receive my blood. Five days later, I received another message from the NHS saying that my blood had been issued to King College Hospital. King College is the hospital where most victims of accidents in the area are taken, and the demand for blood in that hospital is always high. I was so happy to know that my blood was taken to where it was needed the most.

Since I can donate every four months, I am praying to God to keep me healthy and strong to be able to donate again.

Gertrudes with her friend Regina.

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Find out more about NHS blood donation in Britain.

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