21 Lives

During a busy time at work today, my cell phone rang.  I answered without thinking, then looked at the number and saw a toll-free area code.  Arrgh!  A solicitor, I thought — but because I believe in being polite, I answered anyway.

“Hello?” I said, only half-listening and preparing to cut the sales pitch short.

“Mr. Webner, it’s the American Red Cross.  You’ve saved 21 lives with your prior donations.  We’re in need of blood and hope that you will come to the blood drive we’re having in your area.”

“I’m sorry, you’ve caught me at a busy time at work,” I began automatically.  Then I realized it was the Red Cross calling, not a solicitor.  “Wait a minute . . . what did you say about the 21 lives?”

“We calculate that each unit of donated blood saves three lives,” the woman at the other end of line said.  “We use every part of your donation — the plasma, the blood cells, and the platelets.  Since you’ve given 7 units, we think you’ve saved 21 lives.”

It’s an exaggeration, I’m sure — some of the people who’ve received my blood, or part of it, probably weren’t in danger of dying — but it was an effective pitch nevertheless.  It made me feel good to think that I had, possibly, helped some people in their hour of need.  So we discussed my next blood donation.

After having never given blood before, I decided a few years ago to become more civic-minded.  Giving blood is a simple way to lend a hand, and I am embarrassed that I didn’t start doing so until recently.  I’ve tried to make up for my past oversight, however, by becoming a regular whenever the Red Cross comes to the firm for donations.

I’m happy to think I may have touched 21 lives.  It will help to keep me going to the blood drives, rolling up my sleeve, and doing my part for the common good.