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Rice for blood

Shortly after sunset, a crowd of perhaps 40 people rush onto the hospital grounds. Everyone’s in a frenzy – a sure sign of a severely injured patient. They carry in a strong-looking 25-year-old man. He was shot on his way back from the weekly cattle market, only a short walk away from the hospital, and his 20 cattle were stolen. Blood spurts out of his right arm. A nurse rushes to the gate to press down on the wound with his bare hands to stem the blood flow. The relatives of the pale, unconscious man carry him straight into the operating theatre where he is placed on the operating table. The nurses attach a patient monitor and drip, and start ventilating. Roger, the lab technician, immediately starts to take blood samples from the ten nearest relatives to compare them with the blood of the victim. Four of them are compatible donors, so hospital staff plan to take about half a litre from each.

The projectile removed from the young man's wound.

But something strange happens. The four potential donors leave the hospital hurriedly to look for someone cooking rice at the market. They return just twenty minutes later, one of them still chewing. An unfamiliar tribal custom is revealed – the relatives are only prepared to give blood on a full stomach. As soon as they get back, their blood is directly transfused. Only now can the surgery begin, and luckily it is successful.

We later learn that the young man was lucky, as there happened to be a family just outside the hospital gate who were willing to share their freshly boiled rice. It can occur that even in the most pressing emergency and with a loved one in critical condition, the donors insist on first bringing a large pot of rice to a boil before starting the transfusion.


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