According to the UK charity AVERT, "an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses," since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s.
The epidemic is particularly destructive in developing countries with limited access to healthcare and education. Just last year in Sub-Saharan African countries, over 2.1 million new HIV infections were recorded, at least 150,000 of which were in children who were infected during infancy by their HIV-positive mothers.
One of the side-effects of the AIDS virus without treatment is a chronic weakening of the immune system. The virus attacks certain types of blood cells, thus leaving a patient vulnerable to multiple other life-threatening diseases such as Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, and chronic diarrhea. This side effect is the sad reality for one little boy in Zimbabwe named Givens (and many others like him).
One of the tests that healthcare workers will run on HIV-positive patients is a "CD4 blood count" test. Essentially, CD4 cells are extremely important to the blood's immune functions. The more CD4 cells, the better; if the CD4 count is low, the patient is in grave danger and is in need of immediate blood transfusions to boost those immune cells.
Givens, the 13 year old boy pictured above, has been suffering from AIDS since the beginning of his young life.
Our mission partner in Zimbabwe runs a children's hospital that specializes in treating kids who are HIV-positive. Starting at the age of 3, Givens has been receiving regular treatments and blood transfusions from them as his weak body fights off the side effects. Many families with members suffering from AIDS come in for these blood transfusions--the vast majority of them are too-impoverished to be able to pay our partners for the transfusions.
In light of this, much of the freshly-donated blood that our mission partners have received in the past was paid for by the local government in their town, thanks to our partner's status as a nonprofit organization serving the people of Zimbabwe. However, due to the current economic and social conflicts in Zimbabwe, the government agency was running out of money and not able to pay for the blood needed as usual. Instead of giving our mission partners fair warning of the situation, the government agency lied to them, informing them that the bill had been paid. Days later, our mission partner received a bill in the mail for the blood, requiring immediate payment in order to receive any new transfusion donations.
"To suddenly have no access to blood was a big emergency for us. We have never lived with debt and to suddenly have this huge bill we had never planned on!" our partner said.
That same week, Givens was brought to the hospital by his father for treatments because Givens was feeling very ill. After testing Givens' blood, it was clear that his CD4 cell levels were dangerously low, and he needed a blood transfusion immediately to continue living.
Thanks to your generosity in supporting IDES, we were able to provide the children's hospital with the funding to pay off the debt to the government agency and receive a fresh load of blood donations.
"We asked people to pray and you were definitely an answer to prayer!" our partner exclaimed. "We were able to pay our bill off and also pay more in advance with the other money people sent and we were able to get blood again this past week."
Our partner was able to move forward with the immediate blood transfusion that Givens so desperately needed due to the assistance.
"We quickly transfused him with 1 unit of blood and his Hemoglobin went up to 4.6 and even though that is still very low he will be able to slowly build up his blood count with iron and he will live!" our partner reported. "Without your intervention we would not have had blood at all and we would have had to transfer him to another hospital and without money for a transfusion he would have died. You gave him life!"
Thanks to you, and thanks to God's sovereign hand and watchful care for the poor and the hurting, Givens' life was saved. He will live another day in order to further experience the love of Jesus Christ presented to him by Jesus' followers. Many more HIV-positive patients, many more young mothers and their babies, and many more sick patients in need of transfusions now have the blood that will give them life. We praise God for the opportunity to partner with you in this, all in response to a Savior who shed his blood in order to give us life.
"Thank you for being our answer to prayer—you have made the difference in our work in the hospital and have saved so many people. Thank you for your care and concern."