Submitted by Mercyships on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 16:05.
It was a normal day onboard the Africa Mercy. Everyone was buzzing around, completing the day’s tasks and making sure everything was running smoothly. Suddenly, an announcement rang out across the ship: “Eileen Pryor-Foley, paging Eileen Pryor Foley. Please report to the lab as soon as possible!”
Immediately, Eileen ran down several flights of stairs to see why the lab needed her urgently. She was aware that her blood type had been matched with someone having surgery that day. Was it possible that there was a need for an emergency blood donation?
As Eileen suspected, there was a patient in trouble in the operating room. Teha-Sama was having surgery to remove a large growth on the left side of her face. Halfway through the surgery she suffered major blood loss, and the call for blood donors rang out across the ship. Within minutes of the page, Eileen was on a gurney outside the lab, giving a pint of blood. Her O negative blood type is very rare, and Eileen was excited to be able to help Teha-Sama.
As Eileen’s pint bag began to fill with the life-saving blood, a nurse stood by for the completion of the process. As soon as the bag was full, the nurse took it to the OR to begin the blood transfusion for Teha-Sama. In the end, Teha-Sama needed four pints of blood for her transfusion. This meant that four Mercy Ships crew members donated their blood at a moment’s notice to save her life.
Eileen says, “I joke with her now, saying that we are blood-sisters. It is the most satisfying thing to not only give blood to someone in need but also to meet that person afterwards.” Eileen faithfully visited Teha-Sama in the ship’s hospital. Although their friendship started slowly, a trust gradually developed between the two women. In the evenings, they could be found holding hands and just being a supportive presence for each other.
Mercy Ships has a unique blood donation system. “Here, we only use whole blood that contains plasma because we can’t separate it on the ship,” explains Claudia Juarez, Senior Medical Lab Technician. The crew onboard the ship are literally a “walking blood bank” because there is no means of storing blood onboard the vessel.
On the Africa Mercy, every donor’s blood is tested before the need arises. This allows the lab to call crew members immediately to start the process of donating blood. Thanks to the crew members who give their time and their blood, lives are saved.
Teha-Sama struggles to find words to express her gratitude for the people who saved her life. “Thank you! I can’t say it enough – thank you!”