Once there was an eight year old boy whose younger sister was dying of leukemia. She was desperately in need of a blood transfusion. They tested all of the immediate family but the boy’s blood was by far the best match. The parents were reluctant to have him donate his blood because they were afraid the experience would be too traumatic.  But, at the doctor’s urging, they sat down with him and explained to him that his sister was dying and that, of all of them, his blood was the best match. They needed to know if he’d be willing to give her a pint of his blood. They told him he didn’t have to if he was too scared. They could look for another donor, perhaps a relative. But they also explained she would need this transfusion soon or she would die.

“Can I have the night to think it over?” the child asked.

The parents agreed but, worried they had spooked the boy, began calling relatives. In the morning, though, the boy announced that he wanted to give his sister his blood. So they took the boy to the hospital where he laid on a bed next to his sister. They hooked the boy up to an IV and began to take his blood. The blood spiraled through tubes, painting them red as they went, making a trail from the little boy’s veins to his dying sister’s IV. 

The boy lay in silence as his blood began to drip into his sister. A nurse noticed the boy looked pale and frightened so she went to check on him.

“How are you feeling?” she asked the boy.

The boy lifted his head, looked her in the eyes, and asked, “How soon until I start to die?”

I first read this story in Anne LaMott’s wonderful book on writing, “Bird by Bird.” She describes it as “the best true story I ever heard…” and I must agree it is up there. What a wonderful parable of love and sacrifice! Not understanding the process of transfusion, the boy in the story thought he was going to die in the process of giving his blood to his sister and was willing to do it anyway. 1 John 3:16 tells us, “this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” This kind of self sacrificial love is at the heart of what it means to be a disciple walking in the way of Jesus.

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

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