The Blood of Israel

My father’s blood type was A-neg. That is certainly not rare, but it is uncommon enough that the blood bank where Dad donated regularly in the early 1960s asked him not to donate. Rather, they said, they preferred that he be on call to give blood only when needed. I don’t fully understand the reason for that; maybe some patients needed fresh rather than stored blood, or potentially needed more than the local bank was apt to have in storage. I do dimly remember times when Dad was called from work or home to rush to the hospital. Once, he said, there was no time to draw his blood in one room and carry it to an operating room. They put Dad on a gurney in the operating room and hooked him up with tubes to a patient on a gurney next to him. I loved that story –- my dad was a hero. He saved lives!

I was thrilled when I learned as a young adult donor that I shared Dad’s blood type. But nobody ever asked me not to donate on that account –- the science of blood collection and preservation and storage and distribution has improved beyond that necessity. But it’s still a fairly recent science, and blood banks are fairly new on the public health scene, historically speaking.

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