A couple of months ago, I commemorated an anniversary. I didn’t throw a party. I didn’t have an elaborate dinner. I didn’t even do anything special. But it was my 20th anniversary.

Facing death is not easy. Finding out about a terminal medical problem and not knowing what to do about it is equally difficult.

So, 20 years ago on my physician’s advice I had the surgery. It was a major surgery, and I lost a part of me forever. That was the internal, cancerous part of me.

My Doc – I never call a doctor, Doctor – said after the fact that since I was asymptomatic (a fancy term that means I had no outward indications of a problem), I probably would have been dead in six months, from an unknown killer.

So on a Shabbat morning, when the rest of the Jewish community was in synagogues around the planet, I went into the operating room. The re-section was done, and I’m writing about it, healthy.

Were it not for the challenge to my low iron level by the folks at United Blood Services (UBS), where I was a regular blood donor, I would have not checked in with my primary Doc, who would not have sent me to a gastroenterologist, who would not have called and made the arrangements with the surgeon and the hospital.

These folks saved my life! I never gave a second thought about donating blood; it’s what I do; it’s a way to give back – to those in/out of surgery, or following a traumatic physical event of some kind. I never gave it a second thought – until it saved my life.

Summertime – vacation time – is a low supply time for blood banks. UBS is the major blood supplier to Metro Phoenix hospitals. What we donate is used within days, for our neighbors. It’s easy to set the appointment, and donating only takes about an hour – and they have free cookies, Gatorade and even popcorn, sometimes. There are centers all around the Valley.

I didn’t expect my appointment then to be as significant as it turned out to be – but it was!

The Hebrew maxim Pikuach nefesh docheh Shabbat (the saving of a life permits one to obviate even the mandatory strictures of the Sabbath Day) – came true. For me, on that Saturday in June, 20 years ago.

After a short pause for recovery – and to meet the FDA rules for UBS – I came back to being a blood donor.

It wasn’t the cookies – as tempting as they are – that brought me back. It was my overwhelming desire to continue being alive, and to help others live.

You too can help, and maybe even do yourself a life-saving favor by becoming a blood donor. Make your appointment at bloodhero.com.

And let’s talk again on your 20th anniversary of donating!

Rabbi Robert Kravitz is a part-time hospital chaplain for Jewish Family & Children’s Service.

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