Last December, a few days after Christmas, with the support and encouragement of my co-missionaries, and loved ones, I had the courage to donate blood for the second time at the NHS Blood Donation Centre in Birmingham. My co-Columban Lay missionary Teresa (Hui Ling) came with me for moral support. She has experience of donating blood in her home country. I am thankful to God for her company. The donation went well, I felt safe at the donation centre, as well as wearing masks staff observed social distancing and had several safety measures in place to protect both staff and volunteers. The staff were very welcoming and friendly too.
A few days later after my donation, I received a thank you text message and an email with a video of a little girl who will potentially receive my red blood cells. She has a rare form of anaemia and so needs regular transfusions. She said, “Thank you for the special blood! When I grew up I want to be a mountain climber.” Small as she is and although sick, she still has dreams; has a zest for life, and wants to live! Actually tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched her video. They were tears of joy at simply being able to help and to put my faith into action.
For us Christians, Lent and Christmas, are two important annual seasons of commemoration which are totally different from each other. Lent is the commemoration of the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ when he shed blood and died on the Cross to redeem the world; while Christmas, is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ when he came to the world in the form of an innocent baby. One speaks about death that leads to a tomb while the other speaks of the birth from a womb. Even the emotions that might be evoked opposites to each other, one being joy, the other sadness. Though the two seem different in so many ways, both have the same timeless message of God which never goes out of season, a consistent message for all seasons, and that message is love! John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
It is my God who taught me how to love beyond boundaries. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is similar; to love your neighbour as yourself. For me, the teachings of Jesus Christ can be summarised with one single word, and that word is love! That love for my God and my neighbour is the reason why I considered donating blood again to the NHS for the second time after receiving yet another call to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic. Who is my neighbour, you might ask? Someone asks the same question to Jesus in the bible, and he answered it in the story of The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). A story about the traveller who fell into the hands of the robbers, who stripped him, beat him and left him half dead. People passed by and ignore him but it is the Good Samaritan who took pity on him and helped him. For me, Jesus emphasised in that story that our neighbours include those whom we do not even know, even strangers who need our help. As a Columban Lay Missionary, I believe our compassion, mercy and love must transcend boundaries.
I was told when I went for my donation that there are many people needing blood. We do not know who will match with the blood that we donate or where it will go. We just simply step forward and acknowledge that we would like to help save the lives of those who desperately need blood even though they are strangers that we do not know, we have never met before and will never meet. All I know is that one blood donation could potentially help up to 3 people. I was told blood is separated it into 3 components, red blood cells, white blood cells, and plasma. Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, I consistently receive letters from the NHS blood bank to reconsider donating blood again. They said the number of people donating blood has dropped and so blood is in short supply. As well as this my blood type is one of those that is in demand. In my heart I know I would like to donate again, but of course as a missionary I am very busy and therefore I must time my donation with a period of time where I can have a bit of a rest before and after.
Lately in the NHS blood donation e-newsletter I regularly receive, it was mentioned that the plasma component of our blood when transfused to a Covid-19 infected patient could help the person to recover faster. There is now an option to donate pure blood plasma. One donation could potentially help 3 adults or up to 12 children. I called and enquired to see if I could do this but I was told, the ratio of my weight to my height does not qualify me, I am underweight for pure plasma donation. The good news is I still qualify for a regular blood donation.