Blood donation is a mitzvah

Blood donation is a mitzvah

Judaism has always insisted on “safety first.” Starting with such Torah-based commands to build a parapet around one’s home to prevent objects from falling off roofs and to cover holes on roadways and fields, Jewish law requires that not just care but forethought be given to safety concerns. Our cover story this week focuses on camp safety. In every way, it is a Jewish story, and not just because it is about Jewish children.

Also a “Jewish story” is one that pertains to health and well-being and the saving of lives. One is allowed to violate most Torah laws to save a life.

Modern medicine, in its quest to save lives, reflects the Jewish value of reverence for life. Medicine can’t do everything. Cures for AIDS and cancer remain elusive. But some modern medical interventions have saved and continue to save countless lives (penicillin and open heart surgery are a few that come to mind).

Donating blood is another.

Each year, thousands of lives are saved by this simple, selfless act. According to the American Red Cross, those who receive donated blood and blood products include people struggling with cancer and sickle cell disease, as well as accident victims.

Our own awareness was raised this summer when a beloved friend developed TTP, a rare blood disorder, in the aftermath of chemotherapy. She received a series of transfusions that saved her life.

“Especially this time of year, when people go on vacation and schools are out of session, there is a greater need and usually a critical shortage by the end of the summer,” according to Jan Zepka, manager of community relations for New Jersey Blood Services.

According to, a publication of the National Institutes of Health, donations from people aged 25 to 49 years, after adjusting for population trends, decreased markedly between 1996 and 2005, reflecting a general trend of decreased donation on the part of the young. The NIH predicts a severe shortage of blood and blood components in the foreseeable future unless this trend is reversed.

New Jersey Blood Services, which supplies blood to hospitals throughout the state, is in need of both blood donors and volunteers to work blood drives. To donate, call (800) 933-2566. To volunteer, call (732) 616-8741.

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