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Whitney Williams - Even leeches have a purpose

WORLD Radio - Whitney Williams - Even leeches have a purpose

God’s plans include even the lowliest in His creation


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NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, June 2nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. The wonders of God’s creation come in surprising little packages! Here’s commentator Whitney Williams.

AUDIO: What is that? It’s a leech. … Uh oh. Let him get on you! See if he’ll suck your blood.

WHITNEY WILLIAMS, COMMENTATOR: If leeches make you go uuugguuh, imagine spotting one on your husband’s foot in the midst of nightly prayer time with your children.

At first I thought it was a piece of mud—we’d just spent a few hours tromping through a creek. But then my husband pulled on it and one end stayed attached.

AUDIO: [gasp!] It’s falling. Dada, get it down. Oooooo!!

My three little boys fought over a magnifying glass as their dad removed the parasite from his foot for further examination on the bathroom floor.

The leech reared up like a cobra and looked around for its next meal. I shuddered and started videoing.

Though I would consider our family extremely outdoorsy, we’d never seen a leech up close. I was sure most of my Facebook friends would enjoy sharing in the experience.

As expected, my friends loved the video and responded with shocked emojis and vomit GIFs. I delighted in their disgust and then started Googling.

“Are leeches still used for medicinal purposes?” I typed, thinking of the bloodletting practices of the past.

“Indeed, they are!” said Google, in so many words. “And not just by hokey doctors.” (That’s my Google voice.)

Turns out, these nasty little suckers are pretty handy, particularly after plastic or reconstructive surgery.

Once attached to soft tissue, the parasites release three very beneficial chemicals. A natural local anesthetic that helps to reduce a patient’s pain. A local vasodilator that improves blood supply in the damaged area. And natural anticoagulants to prevent clotting.

So how does that work in practice? Let’s say you’re chopping veggies for a nice fajita dinner one night and you mistake the tip of your finger for an onion. A short while after a surgeon reattaches your fingertip, it starts turning black. Oh no! Your arteries are having no problem pumping blood into your newly reconstructed fingertip. But your damaged veins are having a hard time pumping it back out. Your blood is pooling in the end of your finger! In this situation, your doctor might prescribe a leech to help improve your blood flow—but not just your everyday, stuck-on-a-foot, creek leech. No. YOUR leech will come from an FDA-approved leech farm, which breeds, feeds, and sterilizes the parasites specifically for situations like yours.

Once your medicinal leech is done feeding, he will fall off of your finger, fat and happy. The hospital staff will dispose of him as medical waste—better him than your dead fingertip, right? But his wonder doesn’t end there. Your wound will continue bleeding for hours, thanks to the leech’s injection of a chemical that neutralizes clotting. This prolonged bleeding will give the veins and capillaries in your fingertip more time to get their act together after the trauma of a fajita dinner gone wrong. And it may give you just enough time to pause and consider that if our creator God places such significance on the lowly leech, how much greater must his plans and purposes be for your life.

I’m Whitney Williams.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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