Most of us think of ourselves as people who go out of our way to do the right thing, especially if it helps those less fortunate than ourselves.  We donate to charities; we volunteer our time; we tell our friends about worthy causes.  Nevertheless I was surprised to find that I had forgotten about a much-needed gift that most of us can give:  blood.  A few weeks ago I was embarrassed to find out it had been six months since my last blood donation.

Though my last donation was to the Red Cross, I found out since then that the Red Cross charges hospitals for the blood they collect.  I don’t object to this.  After all, the Red Cross has operating costs and they do not make a profit.  Still, I thought it would be much more efficient and helpful to donate directly to a hospital.  So two weeks ago I donated at the Cedars-Sinai Blood Donor Facility.  I learned a lot about how fragile our blood supply is and how grateful the hospital is to their regular donors.  Platelets have a very short shelf life, so they are in constant demand.  I was asked to donate platelets and plasma, and I did.  The nurses were great.  They knew all the regular donors by name and treated them like family.  I was struck by the life saving commitment the regular donors had made.

If you would like to donate a life-saving gift to a stranger you’ll never meet, please look at the Blood Donor Facility website for contact information and for guidelines about who can donate.  If no local hospital is convenient for you, look at the American Red Cross blood donation website for their locations.

Thank you very much.