Written by an Anonymous Author | Contributed by Madueke Paschal
Being born in any of the underdeveloped countries of the world is so much of a burden to carry, but much worse is if you were unfortunate enough to be born with a congenital disease. As far back as I can remember, I was always being carried from health center to health center looking for a blood type that matched mine. What charge was I guilty of? I was diagnosed with sickle cell disease. Even more unfortunate, my blood type is A-negative; one of the rarer blood types there are (as I have been told).
Living with Sickle Cell Disease
Everyone who knew about my condition always thought I would die at anytime. Sickle cell disease is one illness that most people believed was a death sentence. So I am ever grateful for being alive today. I am currently in my late twenties, and I have faith that I still have a long way to go.
My mother has always been my devout companion in all my health events as a child, as she took me from one hospital to another whenever I developed any of those dreaded sickle cell crises. During many of these episodes, I literally prayed and hoped that God (or whoever) could just come and take my life once and for all. But the strength of my mother gave me so much courage.
A Stranger’s Kindness: Living on Blood Donations
It was always difficult to find a blood donor in my part of the world—a country in Sub-Saharan Africa. People often believe myths related to blood donation, one of which is that there is no need to donate as there are already many willing donors, when actually the exact opposite is true. Also, for many people, voluntary blood donation without monetary compensation is seen as a waste of blood. So my mother would have to use the little cash she had to make sure I got blood transfusions when I needed them. The cost of a bag of blood was very expensive for us. But being her only child with an unknown father, it was the only option she had. I was all she had.
I was ten years old when I first benefited from the kindness and generosity of a young man—a voluntary blood donor. It was the first time I ever received blood from a free-will donor. And the timing was perfect because my mother had no cash to spare. For the very first time, I believed in angels who took the form of men. Only this one had a name, and he had human blood running in his veins with my blood type: A-negative. But sadly, I never knew who he was. I would have loved to have him see who I had become today because of his kindness. So why am I writing this today?
The Need for Blood Donors
Today marks the anniversary of that event; it’s been 17 years since I first received blood from a voluntary donor. Feelings of nostalgia usually flood my mind whenever I pass by a hospital or see images related to blood donation. So I try to celebrate this day. This year, I wanted to tell my story and write an article that would encourage and motivate free-will blood donors all over the world. I wish I could find a way to donate my own blood to those in need; I would have loved to do it every three months. But because of my health condition, I do not meet requirements and am not allowed to be a donor.
Most of the time, I feel like people with my condition are neglected by society. I have seen a lot of passionate movements that take place surrounding various causes that end up influencing the government to make positive changes. So why can’t such passion surround the matter of blood donations, on behalf of sickle cell patients and others in need?
You Can Make a Difference, Today
Yes, you can make a difference. We can normalize this matter of free-will blood donations all over the world. Not just for sickle cell patients, but for everyone—victims of accidents and trauma, cancer patients, and many others who are in need of blood transfusions. We are in dire need of your help and compassion. This is my appeal to you.
Let us help save one another.
* * *
In thanksgiving to all free-will blood donors
Some people in this life deserve more than just a thank you
I am forever grateful to you all for your help
You gave me life when I thought I would lose it
When all hope was lost, you were a fountain of hope
You took the pain of that wide-bore needle just to keep me alive
And the worst is—you never even knew me
I thank you from the core of my heart
My heart is overflowing with thanksgiving
Words are not enough to express my gratitude
But just accept this humble litany
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