Blood for Chiaka
by Chidinma Ogbonna
(Mbaise, Imo state, Nigeria)
Clara closed her eyes as she lay on the hospital bed. She couldn't bring herself to think of anything. She tried to sit up but she could not. She was scared and wondered if she was beginning to die. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she let out a gentle sob. She put out her hand to take a bottle of malt drink on the table beside the bed but gently dropped it again.
"Where are all the nurses? Where is doctor Emeka? Where is my Mom? How is it that nobody seems to notice that I am dieing?" she wondered.
Suddenly, there was a noise of people talking beside her window but she couldn't call out for help no matter how hard she tried. Her throat was so dry and she found it difficult to swallow.
Then, as if from a long distance, she heard Chiaka's screaming and she was startled.
"What could be happening to Chiaka this time? She already has my blood." she said to herself but couldn't get up to see what was happening to Chiaka.
"Oh my God, please let nothing happen to my little sister." she prayed silently. She loved her little sister, Chiaka, so much and has been worried about Chiaka's illness for the past month. Chiaka is just two years old, which is ten years younger than her. This fact made Clara love her little sister so much and always seek to protect her.
Their father, Nnamdi died two months after the birth of Chiaka leaving their mother, Nnenna, a widow and the sole bread winner of the family. Nnenna sells fried yam and plantain and from the proceeds of this little business maintains her family. As soon as Clara finished her primary education, she had to learn tailoring as her mother could not afford to send her to secondary school.
Chiaka's illness had added another burden to the family that they could hardly eat. For one month, Chiaka has been ill and she got worse everyday. Doctor Emeka, the owner of the village clinic, promised that she would be alright but she kept getting worse. After a time, doctor Emeka said that she lacks blood and needed a transfusion in order to save her life. The clinic lacks a blood bank and so, there had to be a compatible healthy donor, preferably a close relative to donate blood to Chiaka.
Unfortunately, Nnenna was no match to her daughter and so the only option left was Clara. "Clara is just twelve", Nnenna complained to doctor Emeka.
"There is nothing else we can do. If she is a match, then she is the savior", doctor Emeka replied.
Clara was tested and found to be a match to Chiaka. She had to donate the blood to Chiaka. Doctor Emeka took time to explain to her why she had to do it so as to save the life of her sister. She paid little attention to what doctor Emeka had to say and urged him to take her blood for Chiaka.
After Clara had donated blood for Chiaka, she remained on the hospital bed. Nnenna had not seen Clara come to the ward where Chiaka was staying but didn't look for her, for she felt she needed to rest after donating blood. And so, she remained by Chiaka's bedside and watched over her closely.
Clara was still on the hospital bed when one of the nurses came to check the patients in that ward. She met only Clara, recognized her as Chiaka's sister, and asked what she was doing there.
"Thinking." Clara replied without looking at her.
"Of what?" the nurse asked with curiosity.
"My mom, Chiaka and my friends. I will miss them so much." Clara concluded with tears streaming down her cheeks. Then turning to the nurse she asked coldly, "Will my little sister be alright? Doctor Emeka promised that she will be alright. Tell me, will she be ok?"
The nurse was moved. She sat by the bedside and, stroking Clara's hair said gently, "Chiaka will be fine, I promise. You are a brave child and did the right thing today. But tell me; are you going somewhere later? Why are you talking about missing everybody?"
"I want to speak to doctor Emeka. He is the only one who will understand what I am talking about and may have some consolation for me." Clara said and with that turned her face to the wall.
Doctor Emeka was attending to a patient when the nurse told him of Clara. When he finished with the patient, he hurried down to where Clara was laying and called to her in a very gentle and low voice, "Clara, Clara, what is the problem? Talk to me. By the way, you haven't taken the malt and milk kept for you. They are meant to help you build back your blood."
"I don't want to take them. It will happen after all, so there is no need for that. Even though I am scared, I am still happy that I gave my blood to Chiaka. She is younger than me and needs to live." she finished, wiping off her tears.
"What are you talking about?" doctor Emeka asked her, shocked.
"It will happen, I know it will", she said with her eyes wide open.
Doctor Emeka looked into Clara's eyes and saw that she was really afraid. He took her hand and squeeze it gently, saying, "Clara, what you did today was a brave act for a girl of your age. You know what? You did the right thing. You saved your sister's life and she will remain ever grateful to you. You have nothing to worry about because she will be alright very soon and discharged and all of you will go home happily."
"Will I go with them?" Clara asked, sitting up immediately.
"Why not? Or do you want to stay back in the hospital?", doctor Emeka asked her.
"But, but," Clara stammered. "I am supposed to be dead. I had wanted to ask you when that will happen. I mean, when I am going to die?" she concluded in tears.
Doctor Emeka couldn't help a little grin. "What are you talking about, Clara? Do you want to die?" he asked.
"No." she said shaking her head at the same time. "Having given Chiaka my blood, am I not supposed to die?" she asked in a very low voice.
"If you knew that you would die after giving Chiaka your blood, why did you agree to do that?" doctor Emeka asked her. He was really anxious to know why Clara decided to give her little sister blood when she had such thoughts.
"She is my little one. She has to live." she said and withdrew her hand from doctor Emeka's grip.
It touched doctor Emeka that a young girl like Clara would be this selfless. He took back her hand in his and said gently, "Clara my little girl, what you donated to your sister was just a part of your blood. You still have more left in your body. You will not die. You need to drink these bottles of milk and malt drink on the table in order to replace the blood that you gave to Chiaka."
Clara couldn't believe what she heard and she excitedly said, "Are you saying that I am not going to die after all? But why can't I stand up and walk?"
"Who said that you cannot stand up? Alright, let me help you." he said. He helped Clara get out of the bed to her utmost surprise and moved a little.
"So, what do you say?" doctor Emeka asked her, smiling.
Clara let out a very excited scream and said, "I am fine and I think I will live. Thank you doctor Emeka!"