, Gloucester, MA


July 26, 2013

Journal Pages: Giving the gift of blood, one pint at a time

“Where are you going?” my 6-year-old granddaughter asked as we passed in the driveway.

“I’m going to give blood,” I said. “I’ll be back in a little while.”

Her eyes widened as her jaw dropped in disbelief.

“You’re giving your blood away? Who are you giving it to? Don’t you need it yourself?”

What silly things we sometimes say to kids, assuming their experience equals ours. I stopped briefly to clarify my mission. We concluded with her declaring emphatically, “I’m never going to do that.” I said that someday, when she was older, she might change her mind. But she confirmed, “No.”

Few experiences illustrate more clearly and emphatically the bond that exists among fellow human beings than the donation of blood. Quite plain and simple, it’s the stuff that courses throughout all of our bodies, and it’s a commodity for which, to date, there is no manufactured substitute.

I recall the first time I was “invited” to donate blood. It was at a drive sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, where I’d landed my first job in New York City the summer we were married. The offices were located in the Time-Life building by Rockefeller Plaza.

Just when I’d mastered the route walking to my job, and finally quelled my terror of the elevator that swooped me up to the 42nd floor every morning and down again at the workday’s end, there came a memo that all employees were invited (they meant “expected”) to support a blood drive.

The perk was that, if you participated, you got the rest of the day off from work. It didn’t seem compensation enough for me. I began sweating at the mere thought of having any of my lifeblood drained away.

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