By Al Shams

During World War II, U.S. armed forces sustained over a million combat and noncombat injuries. Many required blood transfusions. Service members seeing their comrades in need were eager to help their buddies in any way possible, including donating blood.

So a whole generation of Americans became familiar with donating blood. After the war, these veterans continued the donation process. Many churches, synagogues and veterans organizations held regular blood drives. Those veterans saw donating as a great humanitarian and patriotic act; I share this belief.

I grew up in the shadow of World War II and was familiar with the blood donation process. That “Greatest Generation” is passing into history, leaving a legacy of self-sacrifice and compassion.

The generations who have followed need to come forward to pick up the baton, but it seems many are either unwilling to donate.

There is a great need:

  • Every two seconds someone needs blood.
  • Approximately 41,000 blood transfusions are needed each day, and each could require multiple pints of blood.
  • Each donation can benefit three lives.
  • Over 1.5 million Americans a year are diagnosed with cancer; many require blood on a daily basis.
  • A single automobile accident could require 70 pints of blood.

Since age 19, while a student at the University of Florida, I have donated blood on a regular basis. My synagogue, B’nai Torah, like many others, has blood drives every couple of months.

Each of us has our own reasons for acting as we do — working for the common good, charitable donations, helping those in need, etc. In my case, I have been blessed, thank G-d, with good health. My way of paying back that wonderful gift is by regularly donating blood. This has been a great and wonderful exchange that I will continue as long as I am able.

Will you join me in this noble effort?