Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Only 13

I found an old note about blood donation that I wrote in June last year, and I wonder if the statistics still shows 13 today...

It has been more than one and a half year that I haven’t donated my blood, as I have always been sick, tired and busy. Yet yesterday evening I felt fresh and healthy that I thought I would be eligible to donate. I was on the way to ride back home after my biking evening with Yoni, my best friend, and we agreed to drop by the Blood Transfusion Center of Banda Aceh Red Cross Society.

It was almost 9 p.m. when we arrived. The Center was a new building but it looked sleepy, dark, uninviting. There was a man sitting on white bench at the waiting room for blood request section, with his tired empty eyes while he inhaled his cigarette deeply – a typical look of Acehnese man in the waiting room.

None sat at the benches at blood donor section, and as we followed the sign and entered the Blood Donation Section, we still found none there except a girl in yellow veil, sitting at the receptionist desk named Melani.

Then I weighed myself. Thank God, I gained my 1,5 kilos back after losing it during my heartbreaking weeks. Melani then took my blood to check my hemoglobin level and my blood type. I was so disappointed to see the drops of my blood floated in the blue liquid - the solution to check the hemoglobin level. It meant that my hemoglobin level was lower than 12,5, indicating that I was not an eligible donor. In my disappointment I asked her to take my blood again and to recheck the drops. The result was still the same. My blood was not “heavy” enough. I need more hemoglobin to be eligible as a donor.

Still with my hopeful mind, I asked her to measure my blood pressure. The result was even more disappointing: 106/63, too low for a donor, because the normal pressure should be minimum 110/90. Anyway, it was good enough, regarding that in the last one month my blood pressure was pathetically ranging in 88/56, then 96/60, then 105/60...

Finally Ahyoni volunteered to donate his blood. It was his second time to donate his blood, and I did appreciate his guts. Even it started with his worries to see the needle, yet he coped with that well. Very good, buddy!:)

As Yoni was lying down with the pipe that flew his blood to the bag, I chatted with Melani. I wondered if they have special room for children with Thalassemia like in the Transfusion Center in my hometown, Semarang. Apparently they don’t have such room for the children even they have regular patients taking the transfusion.

I felt nostalgic, I remembered the grateful feeling that washed my mind when I donated my blood in Semarang. I passed the Thalassemia room and saw the faces of the children from a tiny glass window on the white door there. I have never known those cute children by name, yet I felt blessed to know that soon my blood will be poured into their veins and support their life for another month or so…

Not so long after Yoni finished, there was a little girl with big beautiful eyes entering the room. A nurse took her blood, and my heart bumped so painfully when I saw her. I knew by heart that she was one of those…

I approached her. I had never been so close with Thalassemia bearer before even my blood might had been flowing in some of their body. Her eyes was brilliant, so alive. It was just hard to accept the fact that she couldn't live without other's red blood cells. I smiled at her, and she smiled back at me as a small syringe was plugged into her left upper arm by the nurse.

“Ouch..” both of us whispered.
It was our first word spoken in reflex.
“Is it painful?” I asked her.
“No.” She smiled.
Then silence. I was afraid to question her more.

“Are you a donor?” She asked me.
I was ashamed, hesitating.
“Mmh..yes... I was planning to donate, but my hemoglobin was too low.”

“So, are you a donor too?” ;-) I winked at her.
She looked at me and laughed. She knew that I knew the answer.

“I’m gonna have transfusion.”
“Impossible for now. There is no blood tonight. I’m in waiting list, they will get me two bags tonight so maybe tomorrow afternoon I’ll have my transfusion.”

“What is your blood type?” I asked her.
Oh. I wanted to cry at the same second. I felt that I owed her a life that I could actually share… if only I was healthier, if only I was more eligible…

“What’s yours?”, she asked me back.
Ashamed, I answered… “B.”

She paused. “Too bad.”

I looked at her, “Wish I was healthier.”
“No problem. Maybe next time.”
She smiled again, her brilliant eyes sparkling.

I reached to her hands hand as she rose from the bed. “I’m Asri.”
“I’m Mia"
“How old are you, Mia?"

I wanted to disappear from her face. I couldn't stand my tears from bursting. She’s too young, too vibrant…
She walked to the door. A sort of stunned, I followed her like a dumb. She smiled again to me. Her eyes winking, teasing me.
“See you then, I might NEED your blood next time, because I’m a VAMPIRE!” then she laughed.

I felt uneasy, so uneasy. I went out some minutes later when she was already leaving. Then I heard the staff of the Blood Center talked about their guilty feeling of not having enough blood that day. Before Mia, there was another child coming with pale white face, needing the O type blood. Yet there is no stock kept there. In average the Transfusion Unit of Banda Aceh Red Cross needs at least 50 bags of blood per day, yet there are only approximately 13 donors come to donate each day…

I am sure that there are more than 13 people in this city are healthy enough to donate.
The question is; where are they?

1 comment:

  1. That was a great story! but not just story... hope everyone knows that things not what they saw. Sometime we need to evaluate ourself why this happened, so get healty!!, dont think heavy stuff.., eat fresh vegetebles..etc in the end u could save one or a million of them ( thalassemia )...Hope media at US also find the way to get attension at this manner..public should know about it...JJ-Indo