It has been over six years yet, the memory has stuck with me all these years.
It was November 2011 and I was in a Medical Lab in this city for the mandatory Industrial training, IT.
We were all seated in the lobby one cool morning when a woman came rushing in.
Another elder woman was on her heels, with a newborn baby swaddled in a cloth held against her breasts.
‘Please, who can we talk to?’ The woman announced even before they got in.
I looked at the baby in her arms and I was surprised he was calm in the panic.
One or two of the permanent staff of the Lab stood up and asked them to be calm and explain what they came for.
The other woman, who I later realized was the mother of the baby, finally spoke and explained the situation.
It turned out the baby was born the previous weekend, two days ago, and already, he had been diagnosed with shortage of blood.
They were directed to our Lab from a hospital in town just to buy some blood for transfusion.
I was too shocked and sad to do anything and I just stood there and wondered why the world was so cruel.
The head Lab scientist swung to action and explained to the mother that she would have to collect some of the baby’s already-depleted blood just to run some tests and determine the poor neonate’s blood group and rhesus factor.
It was only then the baby moved.
As his arm was swapped and prepared for the needle and blood collection, he wailed and cried and it was the saddest sound I ever heard.
A baby whose strength was almost lost.
A needle piercing his thin and soft skin.
Because of the blood shortage, his skin had already started to lose some colour and a shade of yellow had replaced the brown.
His veins had become a bit grey and I wondered if any blood even remained for testing.
As his tiny and high-pitched voice lingered and grew, tears welled up in my eyes and I had to look away.
I just could not look anymore and it took great courage for me not to flee the room.
It was one of the many times I have been convinced I had no business being a Medical Doctor.
As they struggled to keep his hands from shaking and find a vein in his skin, I sat back on the chair and questioned life.
I had already spent over 20 years in the world then and I could count the number of times I had ever been to the hospital.
In over my two decades in the world back then, I had never had the need for blood banks.
Why then should a 2-day old baby face such a great problem from birth?
‘What has he ever done to deserve this?’ The question rose again and again in my mind.
I had done some little evils in the world and had never faced such great load of troubles; but what could a newborn have ever done?
As it turned out,
We didn’t have enough blood in the Lab and after some delays, the baby was taken to another Lab and another hospital.
He was now another man’s problem.
I tell you, for the next hours and even days after that, I couldn’t shake a base sadness that settled in my heart.
I reasoned and asked why life was so unfair and a baby would be born into immediate suffering.
It has been over 6 years now and this story has never once left my memory.
I have retold it to friends whenever I had the opportunity. I had ingeminated it to people who had felt life was unfair to them.
When I had a C in an undergraduate course I was expecting an A, I remembered the story and I brightened up.
I asked myself if it was not foolish of me to be sad and angry at a low grade when a baby could be born with blood shortage.
And when I realized first class was finally lost to me in school, I remembered the baby and I couldn’t feel sad.
‘Am I better than that baby?’ I asked myself.
When my friend failed so much and had to repeat a level, I retold this story.
When a friend was heartbroken after a man broke off their relationship without any reason, I told similar stories to encourage her.
When he lost someone dear, the story was useful to bring some hope.
When a great storm hit, I would tell this story for comfort.
And in all my life, whenever I have been faced with little challenges, I knew I couldn’t complain too much and be sorrowful because that baby suffered more.
And no matter what might have happened in your life, my friend, I want you to take comfort and strength from this story and remind yourself that things could have been worse.
Remember the people who have even worse situations than the baby I saw on that November morning.
Try to dry the tears and cheer up. Try to find some gratitude in the little remaining blessings you can see around.
Do not be discouraged.
Do not be weary.
Do not lose hope.
God is still God.