I have felt a sense of obligation to give blood since finding out that my blood type is O negative. This means it can be received by anyone, irrespective of their blood type – very useful in emergency situations when there isn’t time to find out which blood is compatible.

When I first went to give blood I was sent away due to a heart murmur and a couple of palpitations. They wrote to various doctors who have investigated my heart in the past, asking if my heart would mind losing a pint of blood. After several months I received a letter allowing me to donate.

My reserves of benevolent feeling were low and as the nurse pushed a disconcertingly large needle into me I realised that I was genuinely giving something away.

I sat and watched my blood drain out of me into the bag beside me and tried to do the recommended exercises. Clenching buttock and leg muscles for five seconds and slowly releasing for 10.

After a few clenches I felt slightly silly and resentful and put my mind to thinking about what I was giving up. I was being harvested for the precious liquid inside me, but it was more than that. It was part of me. I was literally giving something of myself away. Something my body had worked to produce. The stuff that kept me alive, full of nutrients and oxygen. And I was giving this to an anonymous person who may be lovely and grateful for what I have given up.

Or I could be giving myself to someone unpleasant and ungrateful. I could be giving myself to a drug dealer, a gang leader, a child abuser or murderer.

Blood is significant stuff. The food laws in Leviticus command that the blood of animals is not consumed because the life of every animal is in its blood.

Blood is mentioned throughout the Bible as a powerful substance. This culminates in Jesus saying in John 6:54: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”

This is the essence of communion or mass or the Last Supper or whatever you want to call it; that Jesus gives himself unconditionally to save the lives of others.

What better way to be Christ-like, through giving our blood to save others without asking for anything in return, a rare unconditional gift.

If you’re serious about replicating Jesus in some way I think you should try giving blood. You may not be allowed to but finding out is part of the sacrifice.



Written by Chris Ware

Chris works for a homelessness charity in south London, and volunteers with Housing Justice campaigning for proper housing for those who don’t have it. He’s a fine art graduate from the north who finds the big city too big and too busy. Often found pontificating over a pint of ale.

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