On Giving Blood

Blood donation

A crimson arc hung in the sterilized air as the nurse looked on in horror. Blood spurted from my arm with considerable velocity. It was thrilling.

I made my 41st blood donation today. It was uneventful. But I once had a very exciting donation.

I was giving plasma. The important difference for this story between donating whole blood and plasma is that you can donate more frequently, since your red blood is returned to your body. I was new to donating plasma and since I worked near the blood donor clinic, booked another donation for the following week. They said technically, I could donate the next day, but that seemed a bit much, even for a goody two shoes like me.

I felt fine. I was asked that repeatedly as one will be when screen for blood donation. Everything seemed to be setting up for another uneventful hour at the clinic.

A nurse came, wrapped my arm with a gentle tourniquet and gave me a foam ball to squeeze to bring my veins to the skin. She eyed my arm in the cool way a butcher might eye a side of beef. Apparently, it was precisely the same eye used by a different nurse the previous week, because she decided to place the needle exactly where it had been the week before. The slight discoloration from the scar tissue was probably only visible to me, but apparently my skin had not healed entirely.

If the scene I described at the beginning seems baffling to you, the physics unclear, recall to mind the last time you witnessed a balloon popped with a pin. Now consider that in addition to blood pressure, every viable blood donor must have a fully functional internal pump (a heart if you will), which will work its best to maintain that blood pressure.

Hence, the blood nearly splattering the wall. Hence, the horrified gasp from the nurse. Hence, possibly the most medical attention I have ever received.

But don’t worry. I was fine. Like I told the nurses earlier. Like I told the nurse then. They took the tourniquet off and put some gauze on the puncture. It actually had not been that much blood compared to what they planned to take from me. Nonetheless, they thought it best that I wait TWO weeks before I donated. I complied.

In retrospect, the truly curious thing about the incident was the horror and shock. Everything went exactly the way it should have. I was perfectly healthy and, as the saying goes, if you prick me do I not bleed.

We Christians should not be afraid of a little blood. In fact, we should anticipate it.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:7

Truly valuable items, like expensive perfume, were in Paul’s day stored in jars of clay that had no stopper, no cork. The jar was one solid unit and the only way to get at its contents was to break it open. This was no big deal; pottery in the Ancient Near East was valued in the same way we value Saran Wrap today (though more environmentally friendly).

God’s power is most visible when I am broken. God is in the business of bringing Himself glory and if I offer myself to Him as a vessel, I should prepare to be broken. I should prepare to bleed; not because God is some vindictive sadist, but because I follow in the steps of His Son who

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Heb. 12:2

Lord, my life is yours. Do with it what you will.

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