Saturday, January 27, 2007

Get Well, Mr. Williams

"Mr. Williams" album

The medical system in Thailand is excellent. Services are professional, tests take place both in higher numbers and with a quicker turn-around time than in Canada, and nursing care is… well, both of my parents have nothing but glowing reports about the care given by the nurses in Chiang Mai. The people have been courteous, warm, and encouraging. Pretty much the biggest drawback, in fact, lies not with the Thai medical establishment or the people at all. Rather, the “problem” is my dad. You can see from the pictures that he is Caucasian, white… a “farang” is how they put it in Thailand. Well, this particular farang with the blood disorder happens to have a blood type of A-, which just happens to be a blood type no Asian on the planet has. This means the donor base in this Asian country is, well, NOT! (A serious problem, without a doubt)

And so it was that, early in the week, the Canadian Consulate in Chiang Mai put out an official urgent ‘all call’ to internationals of European descent of the need for blood donors with A- blood to help out an ill Canadian traveler. This communiqué, while effective, nonetheless created a bit of confusion over my dad’s name. Though I did not see it, his name was likely given in the format of Last name first, then First and middle names. I believe this because he received a special delivery of hand-made ‘Get Well’ cards from a second grade class of a Christian school in the area (Grace Christian School??), and every last one of them was addressed to “Mr. Williams.” (William is his middle name) I have since looked through these cards, and nearly all of them say, “Get Well Mr. Williams.” Hence, the title of this entry.

The call for blood donors reached the United States Embassy as well as other European embassies. It reached the headquarters’ of several NGO’s (Non-government Organizations who provide international aid), and it reached numerous Christian Missionary organizations that work with the various hill tribes in the region. In response, from all walks of life and despite it being time consuming and inconvenient, they came! In very large numbers, in fact. Most volunteers turned out not to have a matching blood type, and some were turned away for various other reasons (one was told she was too old to donate blood). More often than not, however, they made it a point to come up to the unit to meet and encourage the stranger they had come to help. In this, they’ve done an excellent job. My parents have both shared with me how profoundly moved they were by strangers who showered them with such overwhelming love and encouragement. My dad’s condition was serious, his pain was excruciating, and my parents’ fear of the many unknowns was considerable. But their courage was buoyed through the support they received from these people. In the end, only two blood type matches were found and accepted, and this was fortunate. But I think that far more good was brought from this than simply the blood that was collected.

So, even though I can do nothing for my dad from this side of the ocean but pray for his safe return and healing, I’m encouraged that, where he is, there are countless people who have him in their thoughts and prayers. "Get Well, Mr. Williams!"

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