Tuesday, April 28, 2009


An orphanage in a remote village in Vietnam was bombed in the Vietnam War. Many children were wounded and some died. The French missionaries who owned the orphanage and the vigilant villagers tried their best to rescue the children. But medical care was not available. Some of them ran to the neighbouring town and sent a message to the MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) Unit of the American military. The mobile medical unit rushed to the orphanage with a team of doctors, nurses and other staff and started their operation to save the wounded children. An eight year old little girl was badly wounded. She had lost a lot of blood and was in a very critical state. The only step to save her life was an immediate blood transfusion.

They examined her blood. It was of a very rare group. A donor with a compatible blood group was needed urgently. None of the members of the medical team or the staff of the orphanage or the available villagers had a matching blood group. They tested the blood of the children and identified a few little boys with the required blood group. As the members of the team were not proficient in the local language, they could not communicate with the boys clearly. They tried their best to request them to volunteer to donate blood to save the dying girl. One little boy stepped forward, ready to donate his blood. During the transfusion he started to sob and appeared to be mentally disturbed. The staff tried their best to console him.

Then a Vietnamese nurse arrived. She talked to the boy and inquired in the local language about the cause of his worry. She had a long conversation and hearing her words of assurance, the boy appeared to be remarkably relieved. His sobs were replaced by a smile. He was peaceful and jubilant. The nurse then explained the real situation. When the team requested his blood to save the girl, the poor boy had a major misunderstanding. He thought that they were demanding ALL the blood in his little body. He believed that when all his blood is drained, he would die. Still he was ready to offer his blood to save the girl. The barrier of language made the team unable to explain the details to him. The words of the local nurse consoled him considerably.

The American staff then enquired why the boy volunteered to donate his blood though he feared it would end his life. The Vietnamese nurse replied that she had asked the same question to the boy. His answer was, “Because she is my friend!”

Jesus taught, “My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them” {John 15:12, 13}.

St. John reminds us, “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action” {1 John 3:18}.

This is story No.121 in this site. Please click ‘older posts’ at bottom of page to read previous stories.

By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.

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