Wednesday morning started off like any other day…a cup of DR coffee and a morning devotional. My plan was to finally spend some time with my family and just kind of relax. The only goal that day was to take my truck back to the mechanic. The roads here take their toll on vehicles and it was making a strange noise. This morning two local guys were finishing some work on the mission house in the backyard. The men, Gringo and Chicho, do a lot of work for our church and are the “behind the scenes” guys for a lot that gets done down here.
We offered them coffee and asked how things were going. Chicho’s wife had a baby about 15 days ago. When we asked how she was doing, Chicho proceeded to tell us that she was bleeding a lot and had not slept in two days because of the pain. I asked if he was going to take her to the hospital. He stated that, after he finished working and got paid, he was going to take her. At that point, I looked at Tamara with a shocked look, and she said “Take her to the hospital now.”
When we arrived at their home and got his wife, she was in agonizing pain. With the help of her mother, we put her in the truck. I am no doctor but I could tell that her condition was very serious. Chicho, his wife, her mother and I took off to the nearest hospital that is about 25 minutes away. After they went into the emergency room, I explained to Chicho that I was taking my truck to the mechanic down the street and would be back. He stated that his wife’s mother was with her, and he wanted to go with me. About 10 minutes into the mechanic looking at my truck, an ambulance went screaming down the street, which is a very strange sound around here. My first thought was “Wouldn’t it be crazy if that was Chicho’s wife?” The mechanic spent another 15 minutes on the truck, then we went back to the hospital. This is when we discovered that the ambulance was carrying his wife!!! The people at this small town hospital said that she was in very bad shape, and they were sending her to Santo Domingo because their hospital was not equipped to help her.
So, we hopped into my truck and took off to Santo Domingo. It was kind of like a car chase in an action movie…Fast and Furious in a 3rd world country! We got there in good time right behind the ambulance. Get this…the ambulance driver would not leave until we paid him the $50 charge for her ambulance ride. Chicho did not have the money because he was waiting to get paid by me. I went to the ATM, got the money, and paid the guy so we could check on Chicho’s wife inside the hospital.
Luckily, she was rushed to a room and seen immediately, which is very rare here. Within a half hour, we were told that her condition was grave at best. The doctor told Chicho that she needed 4 pints of blood immediately, and it was HIS responsibility to find it. (From what I am to understand, public hospitals do not have blood available. Most public hospitals are either free or the cost is very minimal. However, you get what you pay for! Private hospitals apparently offer much better healthcare but most people are not able to pay for it.) Before we left the hospital, I asked if I could use the restroom. I was told that I was not allowed because I had shorts on!
Anyway, off we went to find blood for this critically ill woman. By this time, I was in complete shock! I prayed to God for help. I am in a 3rd world country with a man whose wife is in desperate need for blood and may die. In my emotional state, I thought “I signed up for the mission field. I didn’t think that this is what would be happening! No blood in a hospital? Go find some? What the mess???”
The DR has 2 Red Cross offices in downtown Santo Domingo, and they should have blood. Of course, the first one that we went had no blood and directed us to the other office. When we arrived at the 2nd office, we were told they did have blood and it would be $50 a pint. I had already used my debit card to get money to pay for the ambulance. The way it works here with our bank is we can only get X amount of money a day, and the ATM would only allow me to get another $100. We went back into the Red Cross office and explained the whole story about his wife. Guess what?! So sad…too bad! Pay for 4 pints if you want for pints!
At this point, I was an emotional wreck! We did not have a phone number to check on his wife, and we weren’t even sure if she was still alive! Obviously, my frustration was showing because the Red Cross lady stated that if we donated blood, we could get blood. On a whole, I love this idea…Give a pint, then you get a pint. The timing, however, was awful!
With the $100 that we had and Chicho and I both giving a pint of blood each, we could “buy” 4 pints of blood. We were directed into a room with probably 30 other people in the same position. In the DR, poor people can’t afford blood, so this is how they get it for loved ones that are in need of it. I can only imagine the amount of people that die waiting for blood.
My anger and frustration had finally got the better of me. I called Tamara who was able to calm me down. She did what she always does….She asked me if I had given it to God. I had not. I drove Chicho around Santo Domingo. I was now waiting to give blood. I was going to save this woman. Sometimes, I am an idiot in pressure situations and fall back on my old ways of doing things. I resolved to fix things myself! Once again, I prayed to God and just asked for peace, and that this woman be shown grace and mercy.
It was at this time that I found “Mighty to Save” on my phone…which is a miracle in itself because my phone never works like it should! I turned it up slightly, and a number of the people in the room actually started humming or singing in Spanish. Wow…God lives!
Two hours later, we left with 4 pints of blood and rushed back to the hospital. It was now 6 hours later, and I had no idea what we would be walking into when we returned to the hospital. We got the blood to her. (However, I still couldn’t go in because I had shorts on!) A half hour went by with me sitting outside. I called Tamara again. We relived the events and craziness of the day. We spoke of everything turning out OK but were preparing for the worst!
Chicho came out after the half hour and told me that his wife was still critical but stable, and that getting her to the hospital saved her life. She would have died from blood and fluid loss if left at home.
Tamara and I have frequently asked ourselves and God for discernment and answers to why…”Why us? Why here? Please God, tell us”. On Wednesday, He did in a BIG way! We helped save a life but greater than that we stepped out of God’s way so HE could do as only HE can!!! He showed mercy and grace. He humbled me as I sat waiting to give blood. When I surrendered my power to him, the Lord my God spoke! He is indeed…”Mighty to Save”!!!
This week has taken an emotional toll on both Mo and I. The realization that God used us for His purpose to save a woman’s life is incredibly humbling. We have also been humbled by the harsh reality of what it means to be poor in a 3rd world country. This man’s wife would not have been this sick if they were able to afford better healthcare when she gave birth to their child. This man had to leave his critically ill wife to earn money to get her to the hospital. This man’s wife may not have lived because he could not afford to get her to the hospital, pay for the ambulance, and pay for the much needed blood for his wife! Our hearts are crushed! We are trying to understand how a system could be set up where a life literally came down to a ride to the hospital, a $50 ambulance ride, and $200 worth of blood. It has been difficult not to question this governmental system…and most importantly God! All we can do is praise Him for His grace and mercy!!!