Correcting Selflessness

“So, I shouldn’t voluntarily donate blood at all from next time, right? Isn’t that what it is supposed to mean?”


That was my stern reaction when I was told that the hospital doesn’t take blood from an external blood bank. I was indeed livid while the person in front of me kept a straight face.

Let’s back up a bit.

Photo by Cassi Josh on Unsplash
Photo by Cassi Josh on Unsplash

I donated blood at a camp organized in my office on July 2 this month. In fact, I have been a regular blood donor, donating once a year. This has been a mostly-regular habit/ritual/routine for more than a decade. Every time I donated blood, I did it:

  1. To help any stranger in need.
  2. Hoping nobody needs it and the world becomes a sans-suffering place. <joking>

Also, I semi-secretly wished that if I or someone close to me needs it, I would be able to get a unit back in exchange for my selfless service.

That was the catch: selfless. While I was donating blood, I was thinking that it is selfless service. But I expected a return in the worst case. So that’s not selfless, right!

So, recently a near one actually needed blood. I told the hospital authorities that I have donated blood recently, so I am eligible to get a unit back from the blood bank. Of course, I couldn’t donate again because one should take at least 3 months break from donating again. I called the blood bank and they agreed. However, to my utter surprise, the hospital said that they aren’t supposed to take any blood from any blood bank save their own blood bank. I insisted that the blood bank to which I donated can give the blood, but hospital folks were adamant. They said we cannot trust the credibility of outside sources. They can only accept donors and not blood directly. The blood bank where I donated is a rather renowned one and it is affiliated to many prominent hospitals. But not the one where I was, unfortunately.

Eventually, we got donors arranged in the end which helped. I was left kind of aghast though. I thought that there’s no point of donating blood if I cannot receive it when I need it. Moreover, I should always stay ready to donate but not donate itself because then at least someone close can get from me.

After a couple of hours of disappointment, few realizations hit me.

  1. We can’t do a selfless service if we want something in return. That’s not selfless per se.
  2. If I am donating blood, that blood itself would have got used for someone in need then and there. So what I intended while donating gets realized.
  3. I can’t keep my blood safe in my body thinking I will give it away only to a known person. That’s rather selfish.

So, I was donating blood with wrong intentions I guess. Now a new life lesson has been learned.

Donate blood if you can, selflessly. Don’t expect or wish anything back. Let your blood help a stranger when they need.