The price of helping …

It’s a good thing to help someone, right?  I think so … but have you ever encountered a situation where, by helping one group – you’re hurting another?  This happened to me, quite by accident, and now I’m in a real quandary as to what to do.

For ages, I’ve been a blood donor … not the most regular donor, but I hit the one gallon mark years ago.  It’s important, for me, to donate blood.  I know someone who, because of her particular type of cancer, depends on occasional blood transfusions.  And it’s not just putting a face on the need for blood donations – it’s the fact I’m very popular with the Red Cross.  They call me, email me, text me … it’s somewhat akin to being stalked by a jealous ex-lover.  In defense of the Red Cross, it’s not them – it’s me.  I’m O negative, the universal blood donor type.  Anyone can receive O- but, here’s the rub, O- can only receive O- … how unfair is that?!  Anyway, because it doesn’t hurt (except the part where they stab your finger for a tiny drop of blood for iron levels testing) and I like adding to my growing collection of Red Cross t-shirts, it’s a very small and super easy task.  You just  sit there (or lay there) and read a magazine or cruise facebook for about 20 minutes.  According to The Red Cross website, one pint of blood can save potentially 3 lives, and every day (yes, every day!) 56,000 pints of blood are needed.

Here’s the unfortunate pickle in which I find myself.

Last year, I went to Haiti with the mission team from St.Timothy’s Episcopal Church.  We support 25 children in Chapeteau … a village which, well, is barely a village.  There are no roads, the shacks have no electricity and no running water.  They are the poorest of the poor.  We support local industry, we don’t go in and -shazam- build for them, we help with resources to help them build.  We go to maintain that physical connection, to show them by action rather than just words, that someone cares.  Someone out there in the big world knows and cares.  You are not alone.  That is why we go.  Last year was my first trip to Haiti and every day since, I feel changed by the experience and can’t wait for the next trip.

And that’s the problem.  That is where the crossroad of help one and hurt another meet.  As long as I go to Haiti, I cannot donate blood.  According to the Red Cross, one must wait a year after traveling to certain countries in order to donate blood.  If I go to Haiti every year, I’ll never have that one year buffer, and I’ll never be able to donate blood.

Haiti is very important to me, for many reasons – but so is being a blood donor.  I cannot do both.  I have to choose.  But how?  And who?

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