Antoine de Saint-Exupery

When Hemophilia Prevents Vampirism*

I love reading books, and have already hit my target for 35 books this year. History, nonfiction, biography, exploration and rock bands seem to attract me the most. I hope to cram in about two more before the year is out. One I may try is Mari Mancusi’s Blood Ties: A Blood Coven
Vampire Novel. 
Our friend and colleague Richard Atwood sent me a synopsis and commentary on this “young adult” book, which includes a main character who has hemophilia. That fascinates me and makes me want to read it.  I can easily accept the fantasy part (vampires and fairies) but have a hard time when someone mangles the science. I mean, science is science.  Here’s the rather convoluted plot:
Sunshine McDonald, or Sunny, a teenager with a freckled nose and long dirty blond hair, is enrolled in Las Vegas High School. Her formal name is Princess Sunshine of the Sidhe Light Court of Tir na nOg. Sunny is the royal daughter of Queen Shrinking Violet. Sunny has wings and can
fly because she is a full-blooded fairy. She also has a twin sister named Rayne with black hair.
Rayne, the only known vampiric fae in existence, wants to be a vampire slayer and recently attended a two-week vampire 12-step rehab program. (You gotta love that) Sunny was bitten by a vampire – she turned into one for six days due to mistaken identity with her sister and then became mortal again, or was cured, after drinking blood, whose antibodies help the human cells, from the Holy Grail in England. There she met Lord Magnus, Master of the Blood Coven. Sunny loves Jayden, a mortal with green eyes and black hair who earlier saved her life. Jayden has hemophilia. (How does that relate to the plot? I’m sure I don’t know!)
Jayden is bitten by a vampire, and to save him, Sunny allows herself to be bitten again (who is doing all this biting?) to provide blood for the first time. Jayden is ill. Lord Magnus explains Jayden’s condition to Sunny: “He’s stable now,” he replies. “But I don’t know for how long. I don’t know if it’s because of the manner in which he was bitten or his hemophiliac blood disorder—but his human cells aren’t properly bonding with the vampire ones. Meaning he’s not really a vampire. But he’s not really human either.” Maybe hemophilia interferes with turning into a vampire?
Jayden needs transfusions for his vampirism (not for his hemophilia). Sunny provides more of her blood using a syringe and blood bag (sadly Sunny did not follow universal safety precautions!), but the cure for Jayden is to drink from the Holy Grail. The trio set off to England
but the Holy Grail is stolen and taken to Tokyo for the impending war with the vampire Consortium. In Tokyo Sunny rescues her
abducted twin sister and prevents the war between the vampire factions. Good job, Sunny. Before the Holy Grail is blown up in the Japanese temple
by the Consortium vampires, Sunny transfers to Jayden some of its blood by kissing him, thus curing him of being a vampire. Sunny asks Jayden how he is feeling once they return to Las Vegas: “One hundred percent,” he says, looking slightly bashful. “Except for the fact that somehow in the transition my hemophilia went away.” What?!
Richard writes: This description of hemophilia is just as unrealistic and unbelievable as the rest of the story, but that will not deter its popularity
with teen readers as they somehow relate to a romantic fairy princess who kicks butt. The YA novel is part of on-going series about these vampire and fairy characters, including the character with hemophilia. The Emmy Award winning author and television producer lives in Austin, Texas
with her husband.
And I’d like to know: does Mancusi know anyone in Texas with hemophilia? Who’s the real life model for Jayden? Inquiring minds want to know. I’m pretty sure Mancusi didn’t read my book on hemophilia, which has no section on vampires.
Maybe a good stocking stuffer for your young adult reader with hemophilia? Blood Ties: A Blood Coven Vampire Novel by Mari Mancusi, 2011, New York, NY: Berkley Books. 231 pages.
*Just kidding folks. Hemophilia does not protect against vampirism! Buy yourselves some garlic.
Great Book I Just Read
The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A fable developed during the real-life crash in the desert of Saint-Expury’s plane, this story has become a beloved classic. The little Prince is a visitor from another planet who appears in the desert, keeps the aviator company until he is rescued, and dispenses worldy wisdom with simple observations and visits to other planets, each small and occupied by only one person or animal. Lessons include:  to think outside the box, look at the world and its people with your heart, and my favorite, “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed”.  Five/five stars.

The Bloody Wars: When War Advanced Blood Transfusion

Dr. Norman Bethune

Scientists and physicians in the warring nations during World War II struggled to save soldiers bleeding to
death on the battlefield. Dragging injured soldiers back to field hospitals resulted in too many lost lives. But what other alternative was there?

One of the early medical innovators of mobile blood transfusions was Dr. Norman Bethune, a Canadian surgeon, who wondered: why risk men’s lives by bringing them back to hospital when blood should travel to them? Funded by an organization, he went to Madrid at the outset of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, where he developed a mobile blood transfusion service. With charismatic enthusiasm and caring, he wrote: “This is great! Isn’t it grand to be needed, to be wanted!” He had a high proclivity to risk-taking and civil duty: he was involved in the war-time evacuation of families and children. He was always concerned with the socioeconomic consequences of medical services on the plight of the poor, and pushed for socialized medicine.

In Spain, he seized on this innovative idea: to take the blood donated by civilians in bottles to wounded soldiers near the front lines. Being highly adaptable and effective, Bethune’s service is regarded as one of the most significant military-medical achievements of the Spanish Civil War. A benchmark in
the history of mobile medical achievements, his work later inspired MASH units.

This was not the first time this idea was proposed, but it was far reaching. A similar service had been established in Barcelona by a Spanish hematologist, Dr. Frederic Duran-Jorda, and had been functioning just months before.

The more precise and cautious physician, Duran-Jorda ran a sophisticated operation in Barcelona. He collected only O blood; oxygenated the bottles; and ensured high standards of safety by testing rigorously. He had vehicles fitted with refrigerators to transport the blood to front line hospitals. In February 1939, Duran-Jorda fled to England, where he helped the British develop their blood banks for the front line.

And the Germans, who had practiced the highest level of medical research in the world, regressed into medical myth
when the Nazis came to power. Blood now represented racial purity—with the belief that only pure German blood could be used in German soldiers to save their lives. This would cost the Germans thousands of lives.

Fantastic Book I Just Read
Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I had long heard that this story was a classic in travel reading. The story of Saint-Exupery’s flights over Africa as a mail carrier for the French postal service, Aeropostale in the 1930s. Told in the first-person voice, Saint-Exupery shares his views from the airplane seat, and from his fertile mind. The text is lyrical, mesmerizing, fluid. An adventurer, he writes: “The call that stirred you must torment all men. Whether we dub it sacrifice, or poetry, or adventure, it is always the same voice that calls. But domestic security has succeeded in crushing out that part in us that is capable of heeding the call. We scarcely quiver; we beat our wings once or twice and fall back into our barnyard.” His crash and struggle to survive in the Sahara is riveting. A rousing five/five stars. Read it!

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