Not all superheroes come in costumes. Some just wear a smile and focus on making the world a better place.
One such hero is Misheck Mbabvu, a man who dedicated the better part of his adult life diligently saving lives.
Those who interacted with National Blood Services Zimbabwe may know the jovial figure, who was always ready to crack a joke riddled with priceless life knowledge.
Mbabvu succumbed to hypertension on the last day of 2018, leaving an indelible dent in the country's blood transfusion sector. He was a perennial blood donor, who made 110 blood donations between 1995 and 2008.
His family said that he wanted to donate more blood, but the law does not allow people over 65 to donate blood.
Mbabvu's son, Phineas, says for as long as he remembers his father valued blood donation.
"My father valued blood donation as he strongly believed that it could save lives," said Phineas.
He was also an employee of the NBSZ for 31 years from 1980 to 2011. So dedicated was he to keeping the nation's blood stock replenished that he did not enjoy his retirement like others do.
"Even after he had retired in 2011, he still continued to go to work. Even if we tried to discourage him asking about money, he would not listen," said Phineas.
Phineas says he cannot believe that his father "Great One" is gone.
He said the one thing his father had been able to do over the years was to handle tough situations with remarkable ease, considering he had a huge family and would always advocate unity.
"He never showed signs of strain even when under pressure," said Phineas.
"He was able to keep together a family of two boys, five girls 26 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He always wanted the family to unite," added Phineas.
It is without doubt that Misheck Mbabvu saved many lives through the 49 500 millilitres (about 110 pints) of blood he donated. An average-sized man has about 12 pints of blood in his body, which is 5 400mililitres. Using these volumes as a measure Mbabvu donated blood enough to lubricate 10 adult bodies.
Tichaona Saira, who worked with Mbabvu for a long time, said the late blood donor was a dedicated member, and he was the one who showed him the ropes in the organisation.
"When I joined NBSZ, Misheck Mbabvu was like a mentor to me, as he was passionate about his job. He was the one who helped me," said Mr Saira.
Saira said Mbabvu was a jovial person and always had stories to tell, but most of them were educational.
"Mbabvu enjoyed working with young people. He would never miss a chance to share a few words on health and well-being as well as blood donation," he reiterated.
The "bloody" hero joined the National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) on September 1, 1980 as a driver of the mobile team. Through interactions with blood donors and school headmasters he developed the passion to motivate people to donate blood and since then he lived his life to encourage people to save lives.
Esther Massundah, NBSZ public affairs manager, said Mbabvu was one of the most dedicated people she had ever come across.
"Mr Mbabvu started to work for NBSZ when he was 37 years of age and retired after 30 years nine months.
"He started as a driver of the mobile team and through his hard work, he was later promoted to the position of public relations officer on 1st November 1990. He then retired from the service on 30 June 2011. At the time of his retirement he was a customer relations officer," Massundah added.
NBSZ says blood donation is very important as blood donated is used in cases of emergency, childbirth, accidents and during surgical procedures.
In Zimbabwe, a lot of blood is lost through road accidents. It was a cruel irony to have lost Mbabvu during the festive season as he always played a pivotal role in raising awareness about the importance of donating blood.
Mbabvu understood the importance of donating blood, and at one time at a Festive Season National Blood Donation Campaign Launch in 2015 he remarked: "If you are not a blood donor think twice, and become a blood donor because a lot of accidents are happening and many people are dying."
Biologically, the rib cage has three important functions: protection, support and respiration. Therefore, Misheck Mbabvu - whose surname describes a rib in Shona - fulfilled this role by protecting and supporting other people's lives through his dedication and generosity. One must wait 56 days between blood donations and that means Mr Mbabvu lived most of his life to donate blood as he donated 49 500 mililitres (110 pints) of blood in 13 years.
Former British prime minister Winston Churchill once said: "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Even in posterity, Mbabvu will be a man remembered for saving lives through his generous gestures, donating 49 litres of blood without relenting. Indeed, he was a "bloody" generous hero.
Read the original article on The Herald.
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