First of all, a disclaimer: I am not an altruistic person by nature. Not that I’m totally selfish. I mean, I open doors for old ladies. I begrudgingly let a car coming out of a side street get in front of me, even when I’m in a hurry to do something important, like getting a haircut. I even offer it around the table before I scarf up the last piece of apple pie.
But I don’t do all that I should. I don’t donate near enough money to organizations that I truly believe in. I don’t volunteer my time often enough to groups that offer assistance within the community. But what I have done is donate blood about 120 times. That amounts to 15 gallons of blood, give or take a few red cells.
I don’t donate blood, or for that matter, talk about it for a pat on the back or an “attaboy” or the 15-gallon pin that comes in the mail. It’s because I believe in it. REALLY believe in it. It’s because of the recipients of blood donations, like my sister who almost died nearly 60 years ago of a ruptured spleen from a sledding accident (I’m happy to say she is one of the healthiest 67-year olds that I know), and without a blood transfusion of her rare type, my parents would have had to settle for raising one child who was a little more selfish than he should have been. It’s because of Liz, a young adult who has one of the most infectious smiles I have ever seen, yet Liz, not yet out of college, has already battled Leukemia and is now battling brain cancer. And it’s because of countless victims of disease or injury that may not see another day of life without receiving someone else’s precious blood.
In my area of the country, Hoxworth Blood Center (“All types welcome”) is a university-run blood donation organization and has several donor locations in the Cincinnati area. Wherever else you may live, I would imagine that you have a similar group that is just a Google away.
Hoxworth likes to point out that giving blood can save three lives. So have I saved 360 lives? Of course not. But if one sister or one Liz or one person I may never meet can see another day, it’s well worth that momentary little needle prick.