Just a few weeks ago, Bose, who's a doctor at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), sent e-mail around to her friends, asking for blood donors because Nigerian hospitals have a severe shortage. I blogged about the need and forgot about it for a while until four or five days ago when someone dear to me called to say her mother was in hospital. The issue again, blood.
So after rehearsals on saturday, I went with four members of the cast to LUTH. It was time to give blood. We sat waiting outside the donation point where someone pointed out baba eje (The Blood Father)to us. Baba eje makes a living at LUTH from getting blood touts to come sell blood to those in need. Blood Touts? A large sign outside the room read, "No blood Touts allowed" meaning it is a recognized profession, even if illegal. Some of the touts I saw and who were chased away by the lab attendants, looked as if they were in need of blood themselves. Baba Eje would collect N4000 from desperate families and get some lean and hungry fellow come give his life-force. The giver would be given N500 or so. The level of poverty in some classes in Nigeria needs to be revisited by our government.
When it was my turn, the female lab attendant jabbed my finger and let the blood from the pin-prick drop into a solution to see if my blood was suitable. It was and I was made to climb a high couch after which she began to look for a vein she could take the pint of blood from.
Now to laspapi's anatomy: I've never had the knotted, raised veins a lot of males have. Yes, there are veins visible on the back of my hands like everyone else's, but my forearm and all don't have a maze of raised veins like we see sometimes. (Here's where you take a quick look at your own arms).
She searched, poked, tapped, and then proceeded to jab her needle with the blood bag attached into my arm in 3 different places. No blood flowed. As an aside, even though I have donated blood 3ce or so over the years, I hate pain, am not into sado-masochism and don't derive pleasure from being used as a needle cushion. Anyway, after a wait of more than one and half hours with no blood flowing, I left. My cast members teased me saying the lab tech had a crush on me and had deliberately kept me behind till everyone else had left.
Monday Morning, I reported there with my friends, Kenneth Uphopho and Iyanu. They wouldn't let Iyanu give blood, something to do with her just having concluded her monthly cycle but I was made to return to my high couch. This time, three other females (lab technicians) inspected my arms closely, commenting on their smoothness.
I played macho, "I might not have veins but I lift weights daily" (which is true). I knew a little of how Jesus must have felt because I was tempted (from the fear of needles) to jump off the cross of blood donations. "Let this cup pass away from me", I thought. I was still contemplating fleeing the room, knowing I couldn't take saturday's experimentation again, when a male supervisor entered the room. He wasn't impressed by my "smooth" skin. With a yank of my hand, he asked, "What do you mean you cant find veins? Isn't this a vein? Isn't this another?" And in one swift motion, there was a needle embedded in my arm. The blood flowed.
It's beautiful to lift ourselves above the mess life can be sometimes; to do something noble, something worthy. So, give blood donations a thought, brother must help brother. The blood you give may save a life.