current events · Medical · Philosophy · Relationships · Society/Culture · Spirituality

Not an Obligation to Me

(Warning: graphic image below — visible blood in medical tubing, iodine, etc. …It doesn’t bother me, but some people might not want to look.)

It’s February 14th. I’m not going to rehash my story (find it here if you’re curious) but it’s important to me that I mark this day. Eight years ago, I came very close to dying. Blood transfusions (and emergency exploratory surgery) saved my life.

People I never met turned my impending tragedy into triumph and a very powerful statement about community.

Until the natural lifespan of those donated blood cells was up, the blood of five unknown heroes ran through my veins. Those people will forever be a part of my story, inextricably linked with every day I’m given. They had no idea who they might be helping when they donated blood, and I don’t know their reasons for doing so. But they were selfless enough to give of their time, to withstand some discomfort, and to freely give their lifeblood to a complete stranger, no strings attached.

(I’m not a crier but thinking about the magnitude of that gift makes me tear up every time.)

I know it’s not dangerous to give blood. I know it’s something many goodhearted people just do because it’s the right thing to do and/or because they can. Maybe they just like the free snacks afterward.

Or maybe they love someone who has been there, who was saved with blood products.

Maybe they themselves were in my place once, close to death, and other donors saved them.

I can’t know. But I honor them and I bless them. I hope karma has bestowed rich rewards for their good deeds; may their lives be filled with whatever brings them joy.

People ask me sometimes if I donate now because I feel obligated. I do feel a certain — I hesitate to say spiritual, though it does tie in well with my views and beliefs within Druidry  — responsibility toward my fellow human beings. I felt that way before my ordeal though, that inner…conviction, I guess Christians might call it, that this is a vital part of my life’s work, humble though it may be.

Giving blood — being alive and healthy enough to freely choose to do this — is never obligation on my part. It’s a sacred gift gladly given, and as I give, I think of the recipients I will never know: My strength to you; healing be yours.

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Easy peasy. See?

We are all connected, and we are stronger when we live that out as fully as we can. For me, that means partaking of the privilege, the honor, of donating blood (or platelets) whenever I am able to do so.

The t-shirts they gave out at the blood drive today read, “Give someone another birthday. Give blood.”

Give someone another birthday. I’ve had eight “anothers” so far. Thank you, dear world.

(More info on donating blood here and here.)