There are about five litres of blood in the human body and it’s made up of several useful components.
My blood giving journey
Alex Kats, December 2020
On a dreary summer morning in Manhattan in 2010, I woke up in my friend’s apartment with little planned for the day. It was a Sunday and I had spent Shabbat with my friend and his family. I had plans on the other side of town for that evening, but was happy to do whatever he was doing that morning. As it turned out, he was going down to his local synagogue to give blood as part of an annual blood drive organised by the synagogue.
I had never given blood and the thought of it sounded oddly macabre. I wasn’t exactly scared of needles or blood, but I was scared of the extraction process. Though since I was away from home, I was eager to try new things and thus joined the queue. As a synagogue fundraiser, it was more than just a blood drive. There was a band, an array of Kosher stalls and even a clown and face painting for the kids. The whole process was quick, joyous and surprisingly painless. In fact, I actually enjoyed watching the needle pierce my vein and was mesmerised by the flow of the burgundy-coloured, viscous liquid that was emanating out of my arm. When I was done, I enjoyed some food from one of the stalls and then pushed that experience to the back of my mind. It was almost insignificant compared to all the other things I did whilst away.
A month later, as I was unpacking my various items of paraphernalia from my trip, I found the pin that they gave me at the pop-up blood bank in New York. It still hangs on my pinboard at home, and for nearly a year I stared at it and remembered my blood-giving experience. Finally I built up the courage and made an appointment to give blood at the newly opened Red Cross blood donor centre in Caulfield. For a few years I donated only annually, but in 2015, after hearing stories from the staff about where the blood goes and why it is so necessary, I became a more regular donor. My most recent donation in November of this year was my 29th in Australia.
My experiences have always been pleasant because the staff make it so, but not always painless. Sometimes they struggle to find a vein and I have had a few bruises along the journey, but they have not deterred me. I continue to give blood because it is so vital, and because so many others can’t. That one Sunday morning in New York has had an unexpectedly profound and long-lasting effect, and I hope it continues that way for many years to come for the benefit of the community at large.