Give of Your Blood . . .
Imagine having an accident and needing a transfusion of blood only to learn there was no blood available, or that the blood you were about to receive was infected. Although we may often take our blood supply for granted, this situation is reality for more than 80 percent of the world’s population. In fact, each year, more than 100,000 women worldwide die at childbirth due to loss of blood.
In response to this need, employees of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma made history April 16 by partnering with a new, first of its kind organization to bring relief to third-world countries needing blood.
The BGCO and the Oklahoma Blood Institute are pioneering a new service project to bring relief to thousands of people in third-world countries who have inadequate or no facilities for blood transfusions.
The project came about when Bob Mayfield, Sunday School and adult discipleship specialist, was looking for missions projects for PowerUp Your World, a church resource uniting missions and Sunday School.
“I was looking for different mission projects and opportunities for classes, and found a Web site with a young girl in Africa who had gotten a transfusion of bad blood,” Mayfield explained. “The caption under the picture said people in Africa don’t have facilities to take care of these types of situations.”
Mayfield said while 82 percent of the world’s population lives in underdeveloped nations, these people receive only 38 percent of the world’s blood supply.
“Many of the medical clinics in these nations are not properly equipped to process blood, and much of the blood they do receive is infected with AIDS, malaria and hepititis,” he said. “Receiving a blood transfusion in one of these nations is often worse than the disease. People in undeveloped nations are needlessly dying because of inadequate facilities and the inability of medical facilities to collect pure, clean blood.
“I watch the news like you do, and there are a lot of things I do not think I can do much about, but here’s something I think we can get Oklahoma churches to do.”
So, taking it up as a PowerUp Your World mission project, Mayfield started investigating ways to get blood to Africa.
“I wasn’t having a whole lot of success, so I called the Oklahoma Blood Institute, and was told they had never had a request like this, but they said they would do some research on it,” he said.
Mayfield said OBI discovered it was cost prohibitive to ship blood to Africa, but they offered a counterproposal-organizing a method to purchase resources so clinics in Africa can process their own people’s blood.
The Global Blood Fund was established by OBI as a non-profit organization to handle the process. The Global Blood Fund is the only organization in the world designed to help blood clinics in third-world countries.
“When our folks gave blood, instead of getting a T-shirt, OBI took the money they would have spent on the T-shirts and donated it to the Global Blood Fund,” Mayfield disclosed. “They now are going to offer this to everyone across Oklahoma, but we had the first shot, so to speak.”
Mayfield said blood donated at the Baptist Building will be processed and used in Oklahoma, but the funds collected will be used to purchase equipment for a medical clinic in Kenya, which will be the first medical facility to benefit from this unique partnership. The cost needed to get this clinic properly equipped is $32,000.
Oklahoma City, Northwest became the first church to participate in the partnership with a blood drive the evening of the BGCO donation effort. It will be followed by Edmond, North Pointe and Oklahoma City, Southern Hills. Other BGCO churches, as well as civic and community groups and businesses will also be able to partner in this project.
“By hosting one of these blood drives, each participant is essentially giving twice-a unit of blood to the OBI and the donation made by the OBI to the Global Blood Fund,” said Mayfield.
John Armitage, president of OBI, speaking to BGCO employees, said the Global Blood Fund will become a model on which blood centers can unify.
“This links our donors to a worldwide family and reduces the ‘gimme culture’ of T-shirts and trinkets and positions OBI and Oklahoma as world leaders in recruitment programs,” he said.
He said the Bloodlink Foundation in Kenya, which will be the first recipient of the new program, is a non-profit trust established in 2004 and duly registered under Kenyan law.
“In Kenya, an estimated six patients in medical institutions die from blood related transfusion complications every hour,” he revealed. “Kenya needs 200,000 blood products annually, and its centers currently provide just 130,000 products.”
The basic necessities needed in Kenya are portable donor beds, digital blood pressure machines, hemocue HB digital machines, digital weight scales, laptop computers for field use and recruitment, projector for donor recruitment and folding chairs and desks.
Mayfield said sometimes a cause is greater than it appears.
“I know some people may wonder, ‘where’s the Gospel in this?’ In Matthew 25:37-40, Jesus says that when we help someone in need, we are doing it unto Him,” he observed. “Helping those less fortunate than we not only allows us to serve in the name of Christ, but it also opens the doors of evangelism to a world that often questions the role of the church in the 21st Century.”
To schedule a blood drive for the Global Blood Fund, contact OBI at 405/297-5700.