On Tuesday afternoon the Zuiderdam’s Staff Captain made an announcement asking for anyone with a blood donor card. A+ or O- who was willing to donate blood to help a critically ill passenger to come to the front desk. That critically ill passenger was me.
Within half an hour 37 people had come forward. The Staff Captain visited me in the ship’s hospital the next morning to tell me about the response. He also spoke to a group of retired servicemen telling them that this was beyond precedent. Blood donors on the ship are limited to people under 70 years of age and this is a world cruise full of people over 70.
That evening I got two transfusions that may have saved my life. My problem was internal bleeding over a period of time. My hemoglobin had fallen to dangerously low levels (Normal for a man is 13 to 16, I was at 6.) The ship’s hospital is designed to treat the normal range of ailments. It has limited diagnostic and surgical facilities, but they can keep you alive.
A long cruise builds a sense of community and that community proved itself this week in the middle of the Indian Ocean, days from land. People rallied around Suzi with offers to help her pack and around me with prayers. Some of the donors showed up at my ship hospital room to tell me that they made the donation, some wish to remain anonymous. I appreciate you all, and the medical staff on Zuiderdam.
On Thursday morning an ambulance crew from Port Louis, Mauritius, arrived in the Deck A hospital, loaded me onto a gurney and we started out the gangway. It was hot outside and since the ambulance (or perhaps the paperwork) was not ready they hauled me back onto the ship so I would not be lying on a gurney in the morning sun. Paperwork done, Suzi climbed into the ambulance with me, a couple of bags of unused blood, packed in ice. I found good use for them in the next day. Our bags went to the port agent’s car, and we were off on a bumpy ride, sirens wailing, for probably the most unique tour of this port of call.
I am on my third day in the ICU of City Clinic in Port Louis. I will write about my hospital experience later when I have more energy, the treatment here is good. This the first day I could sit up and do some typing.
As of the evening of March 5 my hemoglobin is up to 9, still not good enough to fly in a high altitude atmosphere but much better It is the first day that I have not had IV tubes sticking from my hands, limiting my typing ability. The tubes are still there for further use but for now I am tethered to nothing except by bonds of friendship and appreciation. Thanks for the prayers, the support and the blood.