Sometimes you can save a life by doing the simplest things.
This summer, I decided to follow in my dad’s footsteps and weekly donate platelets. It didn’t really start out as a big deal. I answer a few questions, sit in a chair for about 90 minutes, and watch a movie on my Kindle while hooked up to a machine that pulls blood out of me, separates the platelets, and pumps the remaining blood cells and plasma back into me.
It was just something little I could do.
I didn’t realize that it was an important thing to do until I had lunch with my cousin and she asked me what the mark on my hand was. I told her that it was just a small scar I’d gotten from the needle being inserted in the same spot week after week when I gave platelets. She was so proud and excited that I was doing something every week that saved people’s lives. She said it was so great of me to go out of my way to help people like that.
I hadn’t really thought of my two hours in a chair as a life-saving gesture. It was just one little thing I could do for other people. I wasn’t giving money to the poor, working in a homeless shelter, or volunteering in a children’s hospital. I was just sitting. That’s it. I didn’t feel like I really deserved admiration for my lazy community service.
Then I started thinking about those emails I’d received from the American Red Cross and Community Blood Center where I donate blood and platelets. The Blood Center had called and told me that I am especially important for giving platelets because I am one of the 2 or 3% of the population that lack a particular antibody. This means that my donations are used for infants and patients with autoimmune disorders like leukemia. They also told me that I have a relatively rare blood type (B positive) which also increases the need for my platelets.
To show me the impact of my donations, the Red Cross sends me emails about where my donations are going. Because my platelets are in such high demand, I give a triple donation every time I visit the Red Cross. This means that with every two hours I sit in that chair each week, I save three lives in South Carolina, North Carolina, or Georgia.
So, this summer, I helped save the lives of at least 20 people.
Giving platelets has really helped me understand that I am not on this earth to just serve me. I am here to use the gifts I was given to serve God and the people in this beautiful world. The experience reminds me of 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,” and Romans 14:7, “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.”
God gives me gifts and resources so that I may give them to others. My body is no exception. I was blessed with a healthy body and time to sit in a chair, so I might have the chance–rather, the responsibility–to use those gifts to serve others.
You are not your own.
I live these verses every day now. I eat better and exercise more because I know that people depend on me to live another day. I know that my body is not my own. It is simply a resource to serve the world, and I have an obligation to care for it.
So, I would ask you to do your part. Check the box on your driver’s license to be an organ donor. Donate platelets. Sign up to be a bone marrow donor. Participate in blood drives. Buy an extra box of cereal to donate to a food bank. Take old clothes to Goodwill instead of throwing them out.
Just do your part.
I found out that two hours of my day can save three lives. What can you do with a few hours?