Very recently, I was playing my usual game of tennis on a Monday morning when a nose bleed interrupted me at the end of my first set. It is difficult to control a nose bleed and serve a tennis ball at the same time, so I spent time off the court. After a while, some players asked me how I was getting on, and I said I was okay and just needed some time to stop the bleed. This led to some interesting conversations about blood!
I explained that the blood I was losing with the bleed was nothing like the amount when I donated blood to the Australian Red Cross Blood Bank. My blood is highly sought after by the Blood Bank because it is classified as “O Negative” – the “universal” blood. All blood is precious but O Negative, especially so because anyone can receive my blood no matter the recipient’s blood grouping.
Some people are fearful about donating blood, but it is all quite pleasant and well worthwhile. A few necessary preliminaries take place on arrival at the donor centre – checking my blood pressure and haemoglobin level – and then I lie on the large, comfortable, layback chair. I watch the preparation process with fascination each time but avert my eyes as the Red Cross nurse inserts the needle into my vein – there is a gentle prick, and a few minutes later, the plastic bag is full – containing 470 ml of my blood. The average adult male has around 5 litres of blood, so there is still plenty left for me!
Robert Coleman wrote a story titled ‘Written In Blood’ describing a young boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
“Would you give your blood to Mary?” the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.” Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny’s smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube. Johnny’s voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence. “Doctor, when do I die?’ Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he’d agreed to donate his blood. He thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. Well done Johnny being prepared to lay down his life to save his sister.
I am reminded that there is One who willingly gave His life so that others might live. The Easter story reminds us that “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God”. 1 Peter 3:18… Jesus’ blood was shed for us – the whole 5 litres of it – on the cross on which He died. We all have a terminal disease, a sin problem which destroys our relationship with our Creator… “but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin”. 1 John 1:7.. Jesus shedding His blood for us paid the debt He did not owe to satisfy the debt we could not pay.
Giving blood is obviously a good thing to do as a poster in the donor centre reminds us a blood donation can potentially save three lives. At Easter and other times, too, we are reminded of Jesus shedding His blood for us as part of the greatest rescue mission ever. When we confess our sin, repent and receive Christ as Saviour and Lord, then we know that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Our relationship with our Lord can be restored, so we receive forgiveness of sin, joy, hope, purpose in life, and eternal life in Heaven. How precious is the blood!
The Red Cross Nurse Simone did an excellent job facilitating the removal of 470 ml of my blood which contributes to the potential saving of three lives. Our son Tim had approx 70 blood transfusions during his cancer treatment – we are grateful to all those who gave blood so that Tim could live. Perhaps your circumstances might allow you to give blood if you are not already doing it??
- Written by Rev Bruce Stewart, for New Life Aus, 23 Feb, 2022
- (Image photography by Jan Stewart)