Here is the text:
The Bloodmobile returned recently to our church and I took my usual turn in a long list of donors. When the technician apologized for the bruise, I told her that I would wear it as a badge of honor. After all, I would not be here if it were not for other donors, long ago in South America.
Sixty years ago, there was a young couple expecting their third child, happy and excited. They lived in a new, small industrial town beyond the mountain range that border the Brazilian Southeast. They had grown up in the big city of Rio de Janeiro and had moved there shortly after their marriage, he a brand-new engineer working at the huge national steel mill, she a beautiful, talented and dedicated mother and wife. His career was progressing well, and he was already overseeing a sizeable section of the plant.
They left for the hospital when the time came. There was no special reason to expect the unusual. Yet it turned out to be a difficult labor, long and complicated. When finally the beautiful baby girl was born, the mother would not stop bleeding.
There was dreadful fear in her husband’s heart, when they told him that she might be bleeding to death, and that the small, new hospital did not house a suitable blood bank. Their whole world they had built together must have passed through his mind!
As the story was told so many times later, he ran to the entrance of the hospital, in a daze of pain and despair, praying and asking fervently that God and the Blessed Virgin would come to help. And there they were, the two angels sent from heaven at that very moment: two large, healthy men from the steel plant, two of the men he oversaw every day at work, who had just arrived to donate blood.
Grabbing them by the arm, the desperate and grateful young father flew them to the surgery room, where the two of them gladly and most willingly complied, so moved they were to be playing the role of life-saving angels.
Nourished by the blood of two strong and healthy Afro-Brazilian men, the young mother’s life was saved. The baby thrived and grew up to be a beautiful, accomplished and generous woman.
That baby was one of my older sisters, and I would not be here to tell the story if my mother, that fateful day, bled to death, leaving her infant daughter in the arms of a devastated husband. None of us, her subsequent seven children, would have seen the light of day.
My parents went on to have a long family life filled with faith, love and adventure. Our family became for many a center of friendship and culture. None of our Christmas and Easter celebrations, First Communions, weddings… none of the many happy activities at my childhood home would have happened, if it were not for the gift of the two men in the hospital, long ago. Today my siblings and I are parents and grandparents, writers, teachers, engineers, musicians and computer programmers. The youngest, born almost twenty years after this story took place, is a religious Benedictine sister.
The stories of lives saved vary immensely. But the idea is the same, as the friendly tech told me in the Bloodmobile: blood saves lives. People need blood in all kinds of circumstances, and it could be any of us in need, at any moment.
Next year I will return when the Bloodmobile comes, and again I will wear my bandage as a badge of honor. And maybe I will tell them this story.