Give blood and give life


Church-sponsored blood drives saves lives

By Roger Fast

For the past two years I have coordinated blood drives at College Community Church MB in Clovis, Calif. It has been a rewarding experience for me and for our congregation.

Donating blood is one of the most tangible ways in which a person can contribute a much-needed and scarce resource to the community. When we give blood we have literally given of ourselves in a special way. For the sick and injured that receive the blood, it often makes a lifesaving difference.

Most healthy adults can donate a pint of blood every eight weeks. Ironically, the source of blood is plentiful, but most people don’t give. I can’t help but see a parallel in Jesus’ statement in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”

The two most commonly given reasons for not giving are “I’m scared of needles” and “I never thought of it.” Having churches and other organizations sponsor blood drives is a way of overcoming the second reason. And perhaps seeing your fellow church member be brave is a way of overcoming the first.

Early in our experience, I reported in a church business meeting that our participation was less than hoped for by the blood bank. Delores Friesen, who is a MB Biblical Seminary professor, stood up and told how a transfusion of four units of blood saved her life when she was near death from a postpartum hemorrhage. Since then, participation has been very good. Being aware of the life you may be saving puts fear of needles in a different light.

Perhaps our most inspirational donor is Naomi Dyck, an 85-year-old widow. She is a retired nurse with the universal donor blood type (O negative), and she knows from a health-care provider’s viewpoint how important blood transfusion can be. She has donated for years and was enthusiastic about having the bloodmobile come to her at church instead of her having to go to the blood bank.

As every Sunday school boy can tell you, the “widow’s mite” does not really seem to be worth as much as a rich man’s thousands. Jesus was encouraging his disciples to think about how much the gift is worth to the giver. But in the case of blood donation, everybody’s pint is worth the same, whether rich or poor.

I would encourage readers to consider starting a regular blood drive at your church or to donate regularly at Red Cross drives. Or try other ideas, like blood donation and ice cream socials at the local blood bank. Giving blood is giving life without losing it!


Roger Fast is a retired surgeon who with his wife, Joan, and their four children spent three years working in the hospital in Kajiji, Congo (Zaire) in the 1980s with Mennonite Brethren missions.


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