“For Nina, blood is the difference between being a healthy present mother and one who is always ill and barely coherent. Every time I donate blood, I get to be part of someone’s story and contribute to something bigger than my little world.”

Adwoa’s Story

What does Blood Mean to me? Leviticus 17:14 talks about how the life of every creature is in the blood. As a medical student who has come into contact with several patients in the course of my studies, I’ve come to understand the truth to this statement. Blood is life. Literally. It was coming to this deep realisation that I decided to be a blood donor, which has proven to be a humbling and deeply satisfying experience. However, this essay is not about me. It is loosely based on the stories of three people* that I have come across who have been impacted by the healing power of blood.These stories have changed my perspective of life and have driven me to be a better student, daughter and friend.

For Nina, blood is health. Ten years ago, whilst she was having her fourth child, she lost a massive amount of it and required an emergency blood transfusion. Unfortunately there was a shortage of her blood type at the hospital so she developed an acute kidney injury, which in the long run led to a chronic kidney disease, an illness which requires constant hospitalisation. For Nina, blood is the difference between a healthy present mother and one who is always ill and barely coherent. It is the difference between peace of mind and depression. Blood is the difference between helping her ten year old do her homework every night and and sometimes being barely recognisable by said child due to her illness ravaging her body. For Nina, blood is the difference between sickness and health.

According to Mrs Benson, blood is sacrifice. Her nineteen year old son had been diagnosed with a colon cancer, and in order to perform his surgery they needed o-negative blood on hand. Luckily, she was O negative and was able to donate blood for his surgery. She had been feeling absolutely helpless since the unfortunate diagnosis, but being able to donate blood to her son gave her some modicum of control and hope that everything would be alright. It cut some cost as well, as the family was already struggling with the hospital bills that came with such an illness. To her, giving her son her blood was the ultimate act of love. Due to her blood, her son made a speedy recovery. Because of her sacrifice, her son was able to get better and finally attend the university to fulfil his ambition of becoming an engineer.

In Sophie’s opinion, blood is safety. After eight years of infertility, she was pregnant with twins and the doctors had labelled her pregnancy a high risk one. She was scared, nervous and constantly exhausted with the multiple hospital visits. Throughout the thirty-two weeks of pregnancy, she relied on blood transfusions to correct her anemia. She is eternally grateful for the selfless sacrifice of unknown people that went a long way in helping realising her lifelong dream of being a mother, despite the odds.

Nina, Mrs Benson and Sophie are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lives that have been transformed by blood. Day in day out, countless lives are saved by blood and its related transfusion products. I am one of these people. Every time I donate blood, I get to be part of someone’s story and contribute to something bigger than my little world. Interestingly, it is not just the amazing feeling one gets when they share something profound that pushes me to regularly donate blood. Blood donation is performed under strict guidelines, and as such requires the donor to be healthy in order to give blood. As such, I have learnt to take better care of my health, for I am not just living for myself, but for others.

As such, for me, blood is vitality.