Sunday, January 17, 2010

Donating Blood

Over a year ago I got an unsolicited call from the American Red Cross, asking if I would consider being a blood donor. I had not tried donating blood since I was about 20. The experience had left me terribly dizzy afterwards, so I decided at the time not to try again. When this random call came in, I figured it was at least worth making another effort after all these years. I scheduled the appointment, and I've been donating blood on a fairly regular basis ever since.

According to the Red Cross, every minute of every day, someone needs blood. That blood can only come from a volunteer donor, a person who is not only eligible but makes the choice to donate. Only 38% of Americans are eligible to donate blood and of those only 8% do. That amounts to only about 3 out of every 100 people! Those are scary numbers.

In order to donate, a person must read through all of the educational material and answer a series of questions about his health and history. This is all handled in strict confidence, and all of the information is available online before even making an appointment. Once the eligibility is established, a small blood sample is drawn by a simple finger prick to evaluate the donor's iron level. If the hemoglobin count is at least 12.5, it's a go! Once the phlebotomist begins to locate an acceptable vein, the whole process only takes about 10 minutes. Afterwards a friendly volunteer welcomes the donor to the snack area where he can choose from various juice drinks and cookies, all of which helps blood sugar levels. I can usually be in and out within an hour; most often less. Not bad at all when I consider the family on the receiving end who is praying over their injured love one.

If someone is eligible to donate blood, there are several ways to ensure that the donation process will go well, such as drinking plenty of liquids (especially that day and up to 30 minutes before), eating iron-rich foods, avoiding fatty foods and aspirin, and getting a good night's sleep beforehand.

Many eligible people don't consider donating blood because they are afraid of needles. Again, the Red Cross can help you with this issue. Somehow I think the parents gazing down into the eyes of their child that has just been in an accident wouldn't even consider the needles--they'd simply want their child well.

Blood types and Rh factors are fascinating. It's a valuable piece of information to know your blood type. I discovered that while I can receive blood from anyone, only those with my blood type can receive my blood. That decreases the odds that my blood will even be used.

The whole idea of donating blood naturally leads me to remembering the ultimate Blood Donor.

I was the injured party, in desperate need! My blood has been tainted with the pervasive disease of my kind. According to the Bible, the sins I have committed separated me from God eternally, and it required the shedding of blood in order for me to ever have a right standing before God. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22b

However, the eligibility requirements for a donor were extremely strict! The donor Himself could not have the same disease that pervaded my life. In fact, there was only one eligible donor. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Not only did the donor have to be a sinless man, but the He actually had to be God Himself! For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Colossians 2:9 ...that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. 2 Corinthians 5:19

In the same way that some eligible people avoid the donation process because they think it will be uncomfortable, the ultimate Donor didn't look forward to the process. He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me." However, instead of staying away, He chose to obey. Yet not as I will, but as you will. (Matthew 6:39)

Just as the blood donor overcomes his fears by considering the blessing to the unknown recipients, Jesus focused on those who would receive the benefits of his sacrifice: ...the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame... Hebrews 12:2a

While I may never know if my blood is used to save a life, or if it ends up being tossed because the eligible recipient list is so limited, the blood offered by the Donor is sufficient to meet the needs of any and everyone! He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

Yes, Jesus is the ultimate Blood Donor. It is completely through His choice to go to the cross, to suffer its shame, and to die the death of a common criminal, that my disease has been cured. His donation has made me right with God! My name is in the Lamb's Book of Life! Nothing impure will ever enter [the new Jerusalem], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 21:27

While Jesus has completely atoned for the consequences of my disease, my ailment is of the nature that I still have to live with it until the day I die. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. Romans 7:18a As a forgiven sinner, I choose each day to follow and listen to Him. Until the day I trade in this fleshly body for my glorious one, I will walk with Him, thank Him daily for His sacrifice, and look forward to the day when my faith will become sight and when I will meet my Donor face to face. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

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