Over the past several years here at Hospital Loma de Luz, our patient acuity (the level of how sick a patient is) has been rapidly increasing. The hospital is open 24/7 with an on-call OB provider for our patient who arrive in labor, on call general provider, and an on-call surgeon to take care of any type of patient who comes in our gate. Our increasing acuity has resulted in our increasing need for blood transfusions. In the States, the Red Cross bus comes around doing blood drives and then sends the units of blood to hospitals where it goes into the Hospital’s blood bank. It is kept in the blood bank until it is needed for a patient. If one of my patient’s needed blood, I would go to the blood bank and they would have the blood ready for me. We do things a little bit different here in Honduras. We don’t have a blood bank we ARE the walking blood bank.
Upon arriving in Honduras to serve at Hospital Loma de Luz, every missionary is tested for their blood type and is put on a list in the laboratory. One never knows when the vampire will attack. It might be a non-emergent situation in which there is time to ask the family of the patient to come get tested to donate. Or it could be a critically injured patient brought to the hospital in the middle of the night who needs blood NOW. That’s when the vampire drags us out of our comfy beds, “A patient needs your blood, NOW!”
Last night, my roommate, her parents, and I were finishing dinner when a call came over the radio, “Dr Alexander to the operating room STAT!!” After hearing multiple motos fly past our apartment towards the hospital, Lizzie and I decided to see if we could be of any help.That’s when the vampire attacked. A patient was in trouble in the operating room. He was already receiving a unit of blood and would need second one. I was a match for him.
“Sure, I can donate!” I said with a smile, but deep down I was scared out of my mind. I had always gotten out of donating during blood drives in college because I was too small. A unit of blood from me is a lot more than from six foot man. I was scared the gigantic needle that Sandy would stick me with, worried that I would faint (how embarrassing), or feel too awful to work the next night. Dr Alexander told Sandy to “take it easy on her because she is little.” It had to be done. This very sick man needed it. Sandy tried calming my nerves as I chugged apple juice and waited for Lizzie to arrive to hold my hand. “It will only hurt a little,” she said.
I’m pretty sure that my heart went into SVT as Sandy cleaned my arm and applied the tourniquet. “Uno…Dos…Tres…” A little pinch from that gigantic needle and it was over. It really didn’t hurt at all. I waited, expecting to suddenly feel dizzy and faint. It never came. I felt as normal as one could feel with a needle the size of a garden hose in their arm. Seven minutes later, it was all over and I still felt fine. All those nerves for nothing. Being attacked by the vampire wasn’t so bad after all.
Our critical patient survived his operation and is doing very well! God is good!