I am a helper. I first gave blood in high school. Like most of my undertakings, it just seemed like it was the right thing to do. My moral compass wasn’t set any straighter or higher than anyone else’s. I was healthy. I could replace the blood easily. With minimal pain and effort and for the possibility of helping others, my curiosity was fulfilled – and I probably got to miss a class. Other than taking place in the high school gym, I don’t remember much about it. There might have been powdered mini-donuts afterward.
I had thoughts of selling my blood in college. Who couldn’t use an extra $10-20? I just gave it away though, sporadically. I kept a pretty regular schedule of donating since late 90s. With the advent of email, the interwebs (thanks Al Gore) and social media, it has made the process easier than ever. If you are one of the appless-types or have unallocated space on phone (I have yet to meet that person), you can get the app.
The Red Cross is the organization to which I donate. In the last few years I learned a lot about what happens to the blood I amiably give away. I learned how it's separated into plasma and platelets and whatever else of which blood is compromised - and sold and resold time and again to various other businesses and organizations. There are actually blood brokers.
On top of that, The Red Cross raised a half billion dollars after the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti. NPR did an investigation in and learned that they were lax and negligent on their duties – using all that money to build exactly six (6) (SIX) (<- you read that correctly) houses.
There are reports that up to 70% of the close to $2 billion donated after Hurricane Katrina went to the Red Cross and not to those in need.
I became concerned about donating. I didn't feel as 'clean'. I felt that I was being exploited. Here I was taking my time - sometimes well over an hour - to do a service and find out that the organization to which I shared my contribution toward ameliorating the human predicament was acting like a publically traded company and not a service organization. The Red Cross was a giant PR machine. I didn’t give for over a year. Their calls and emails and reminders came in spades. I knew people were desperate for blood. Unwitting victims awaiting blood and its multitude of ingredients didn’t get my prized A-positive nectar.
I thought long and hard about selling to another organization. I’d finally get paid for selling blood. Lets get everything out in the open. I get paid. I close my conscience. Transaction over. They do whatever they want with my blood. They could bathe in it or trade it for liquor, guns, lap dances or whatever.
At one point in my much younger life I would not give money to house less persons. I would engage them in dialogue, asking to where the money would go or if they were going to buy liquor or drugs. I would go out of my way to buy food and come back and give it to someone in need. But what if they didn’t like cheese or had a sesame seed allergy? Or gluten (before gluten was a thing)? I stopped doing that. Like I know better what that individual needs than he does. Here’s another human being without the most essential necessities in life and I’m making a fucking moral judgment. What an elitist prick! That makes my interest in his well being halfhearted and what I’m really interested in is my feelings and how I feel after helping the less fortunate.
So after a long and tumultuous battle with myself, I settled in my mind that the Red Cross is that homeless person. All I can do is give. What happens after that is not my concern. Like that homeless person, I truly hope that the people I set out to help are being served in the most direct and expeditious way. I want to help. I hope I am. I’m back to donating on a regular schedule.
Go here to donate: http://www.redcrossblood.org.