Neither Magicians nor Gods
AS TOLD BY MERCY UWASI, NIGERIA
THE pain within me started on a sunny, West African afternoon in March 1992. I had gone with my family to our plot of land in order to harvest cassava. While there, the pain began to burn in my belly. By the time we returned home, the pain had become a raging fire. I was vomiting; I had difficulty breathing. Though the pain made it hard for me to stand or walk, my mum managed to put me into a taxi, which then sped to the nearby general hospital.
At the hospital the doctor on call happened to be a man I had once witnessed to about the Bible’s hope. The doctor touched my belly; it was swollen. He asked if I had been passing blood, and my mother said yes that I was having my menstrual period.
“Your daughter is five months pregnant,” the doctor said. “The reason she is bleeding is that she has attempted an abortion.”
Mother countered: “No, Doctor! She is not that kind of girl.”
“Don’t say that. Girls nowadays deceive their parents. She is pregnant.”
Then I spoke up. I said that I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and had been brought up in a Christian household and that my Bible-trained conscience would not allow me to take part in an immoral act.
In reply the doctor said to my mother: “Madam, let’s leave religion aside and be realistic. I tell you that this girl is five months pregnant.”
“Get up,” Mother said to me. “We’re going to another hospital.” As we left the building, I sat down on the grass crying because the pain was so bad. Mother rushed me home and told my dad what the doctor had said.
They decided to take me to a bigger and more modern hospital, a teaching hospital. On my way there, I prayed to Jehovah to save me so that people would not reproach his holy name by saying I died as a result of an unwanted pregnancy. I said that if I died, when that doctor would see Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to preach to him, he would say: ‘Was it not one of your people that came here pregnant some time ago?’ I also prayed that I might be able to go back to that doctor and witness to him once more.
“She Is Still a Virgin!”
At the bigger hospital, the same argument that took place in the first hospital reoccurred; the doctors thought I was pregnant. The pain was terrible. I was crying. A doctor spoke harshly, saying: “That is what you girls always do. You get pregnant, then you start shouting.”
They did some tests. Meanwhile they started throwing some questions at me. “Are you married?”
“No,” I said.
“How old are you?”
“How many lovers do you have?”
“I don’t have any lovers.”
Then the senior doctor began shouting, “What do you mean? Are you telling me that at 18 years of age you don’t have any lovers?” Once again, as at the first hospital, I explained my Christian stand. He then asked if I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I said yes. After that, he didn’t ask another question.
The tests proved I was not pregnant. Mother heard one of the doctors say to the others: “She is still a virgin!” The doctors apologized, saying: “You can’t blame us for thinking what we did. We experience that kind of thing with girls every day.” However, that ordeal was only the beginning of my trials.
‘You Will Take Blood’
An ultrasound test showed a large growth on one of my Fallopian tubes. It was the size of a small grapefruit. Surgery was needed.
Unhesitatingly I told them that I would not take a blood transfusion although I would agree to alternative fluids. They insisted that blood was a must.
One of the student doctors chided me, saying: “What you say is what one of your members said some time ago. But when his condition worsened, he accepted a blood transfusion.”
“My case is different,” I answered, “for my yes is yes and my no is no. I will never compromise my integrity.”
Later, three doctors visited my bedside inquiring about my stand against blood. I explained that the Bible says Christians should “abstain . . . from blood.”—Acts 15:20.
“But you are not going to take it through your mouth,” they pleaded. “You will take it through a vein.”
I said that it didn’t matter whether you take it through the mouth or through a vein, it is still the same thing.
On Saturday, March 14, a week after the pain had started, the head surgeon examined me. He was scheduled to do my operation. By then the swelling extended up to my chest.
He asked, “Have they informed you that you will have to take blood?”
“They told me that, Doctor, but I will not take blood,” I answered.
“Let me tell you something,” he continued. “You will take it. If you don’t take it, you will die. On Monday, when I come, if there is no blood ready for you, I will not do the operation. No blood, no operation.”
He then saw a book beside my bed and asked, “Is this your Bible?” I said no; it was my copy of The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived.* He said I should use the book to pray that I would not die. I explained that we don’t read our prayers from books. Whenever we have a problem, we pray to Jehovah from our heart.
During the next two days, doctors and nurses kept coming to pressure me into submitting to a blood transfusion. They told me I was too young to die. “Take blood and live!” they said.
“Jehovah Is on My Side”
During those times of distress, I read Psalm 118, which says in part: “Out of the distressing circumstances I called upon Jah; Jah answered and put me into a roomy place. Jehovah is on my side; I shall not fear. What can earthling man do to me?”—Psalm 118:5, 6.
After I meditated on these verses, my faith in Jehovah was strengthened. That morning my parents came to the hospital. I showed them that psalm, and they felt strengthened in faith too.
Meanwhile, Mother and Daddy not only were supporting my decision not to take blood but were praying for me. Members from my congregation kept on praying and encouraging me from the Scriptures.
“We Are Not Magicians”
On Monday, March 16, the morning the operation was scheduled to take place, one of the doctors came into my room and saw me holding my Medical Directive card, which explains my position on blood transfusion. He said, “What is this? Do you really mean what you’ve been saying?”
“Yes, I am not going to take blood.”
“Well,” he said, “that means we are going to cancel your operation. No operation.”
The doctor then telephoned my mother from my room. She said: “She’s grown up enough to decide for herself. I cannot decide for her. She says her Bible-trained conscience will not allow her to take blood.”
With that he threw my records on the table and stormed out of the room. For five hours we heard nothing more. I was in pain and couldn’t eat. And there was no other hospital in the area.
Then, to my surprise, a stretcher was brought in to carry me into the operating theater. I was clutching my “No Blood” card. On the way to the theater I saw surgical instruments along with packets of blood. I started weeping profusely, saying that I would not take blood. One of the nurses said that I should drop the card on the floor. She said I could not carry it into the theater. I said I would not enter without the card and that I wanted to show it to the chief surgeon. The nurse then snatched the card from me and took it into the theater and showed it to the surgeon. Immediately the head surgeon and five other doctors dressed in their surgical gowns came out to where I was.
The head surgeon was furious. He called for my mother, pointed to my belly, and said to her: “Look, Madam. We don’t know what we will find inside her. If we have to do a lot of cutting, it will lead to severe bleeding. Do you want her to bleed to death?”
In reply Mother said to him: “Doctor, I know that Jehovah will be with the girl. And he will be with you too. Just do the best you can and leave the rest to Jehovah.”
The doctor then said: “We are not magicians or herbalists. We live by what we have learned. I cannot do this operation without blood.”
My mother again implored him to simply do the best he could. Finally, he agreed to operate without blood. He asked me if I was afraid. In reply I said: “I am not afraid of death. I know Jehovah is with me.”
“Continue Serving Your God”
The surgery was performed within an hour. They opened me up and easily removed the tumor, astonishing the hospital staff.
Afterward one of the doctors told Mother that the student doctors talk about my case at night in their quarters. Now when Mother or I go to that hospital, they give us special treatment.
Two days after my operation, the surgeon came into my ward, asked how I was, then said: “You should continue serving your God. He really helped you.”
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.