"Don't worry about it. This is what we do!"
Moments after Ethan was born the doctors and nurses started talking in low voices and huddled around him for various tests and examinations. After a while, the new mother and father were informed that Ethan had multiple serious heart defects. Ethan was born into a Masonic family. Both Grandfathers are Masons, Grandmother a member of Eastern Star, Mother and Aunt Past Honored Queens of Job's Daughters. Family values are very important to them and the news cast a shadow on a joyous family event. But Ethan had his own agenda and, despite medical predictions, he began to flourish. He developed so well the doctors kept delaying an open-heart surgery to correct the defects. Then as he approached 8-months his development slowed, then stopped, and soon the surgery became necessary.
Ethan's mother is a quiet woman with tremendous resolve who like most mothers, wanted the very best for her son. This surgery was terrifying for her family, so she researched all possible options to give Ethan every advantage for success. Her search led her to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia because of its world reputation as the best for pediatric heart surgery. Decisions were made, preparations began, and Ethan was scheduled for major heart surgery on September 16, 2005. The family began making the many arrangements required for a surgery 160 miles from their home.
A new crisis emerged amidst the preparations on September 1st when the family was told that Ethan would require extensive blood transfusions while he was on the heart lung machine. A blood supply was needed before Ethan could begin surgery. The blood type had to be exactly the same as Ethan's and it could not come from a blood bank. It had to be fresh blood, donated only at Children's Hospital and only on September 14th. Although the blood type was common, most of the family was not eligible, due to overseas duty in the armed services. A frantic search began to identify donors with the type, eligibility, and ability to be in Philadelphia on September 14th. The surgery was in jeopardy.
Ethan's maternal Grandfather, Bro. Donald Mahan, Past Master of Concord Lodge, Vienna, Virginia, was talking about the donor search with a close family friend and Masonic brother who is the District Blood Coordinator for the 54th Masonic District of the Grand Lodge of Virginia. He suggested asking the Masons in Pennsylvania for help. The Grand Lodge of Virginia assisted in putting him in contact with Brother Norman Fox, PDDGM, President of the Pennsylvania Masonic Blood and Organ Donor Club.
Within hours of the initial contact, Bro. Mahan received a telephone call from Pennsylvania Brother Ed Budman who had already identified two potential donors.
The family stress and frustration must have been evident in the conversation. As Brother Budman listened to the story he accepted the challenge and soothed the frustration with these simple words, "Don't worry about it. This is what we do. We will take care of the blood donations. You can complete your arrangements to be in Philadelphia on September 16th."
His words were instant relief. The clarity and simple truth of "Don't worry about it. This is what we do" gave Bro. Mahan and the family comfort that the Pennsylvania Masons would not only help, but that they were also the most qualified to help. Ethan's blood donations were now in the hands of those who knew best how to solve the problem. Preparations continued and the entire family was present as Ethan received a very successful open-heart surgery. He continues to recover with remarkable progress and is back home in Virginia.
Ethan's family is now a little larger than it was before the operation. He is a recipient member of an organization that provides comfort with the simple act of blood donation for frantic families in their time of greatest need. Words do not exist that can describe the gratitude the family feels toward their Masonic benefactors and the debt they owe to the unnamed donors on September 14th.
It may be difficult to understand the impact of the Masonic Blood program until someone close to you is faced with the challenge of locating qualified donors, and arranging for them to be in the right place at the right time. The Masonic Blood Club can remove this heavy burden entirely from the families. Today, Masons are one of few remaining dependable sources of blood, especially younger Masons who have never traveled to restricted foreign countries. It is more than a donation. It is more than an act. It is more than a duty. In many cases, it is literally the difference between death and life, agony and comfort, despair and faith-- a faith born in the knowledge that a family is entrusting their loved one's future into the hands of those who are most qualified to help-- those who say, "Don't worry about it. This is what we do."