Choose Life… Yours, Theirs

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. 

I try to teach my granddaughter to “make good choices.” In my hospital visits I meet with patients and families who must make good choices to stay alive. In all our lives we are making choices — turn left, turn right; go up or go down; say Yes, say No; take the doctor’s advice, or not; keep this physician or choose another.

But when it comes to living, or just prolonging life, many will forget to make a choice that can immediately save lives. While we are strong and healthy, donating blood should be a no-brainer. Every donation of blood when broken down into its constituent parts and can potentially save three lives. Vitalant (formerly, United Blood Service) provides nearly two-thirds of the blood needed in our local hospitals.

As we face deteriorating health, but are still able to make a rational decision, there’s another way to positively impact the lives of others — sign an Organ Donor form. And the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles (our Driver’s License folks) allows every driver to sign-up as an Organ Donor, which then is recorded, and a small heart is added to the front of the license.

Yes, our bodies are fragile. Yes, our blood and our organs can be vital in assisting to make someone else’s life better or giving life itself.

There are many excuses that folks will provide for not doing any of this. Every religion that I am aware of preaches the sanctity of life AND loving (helping in time of need) our neighbors as ourselves.

How beautiful it is to “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” Maxims and time-tested biblical quotes are only valuable when actually applied to real people. Tossing a bible phrase to show your knowledge of text is fine in the classroom or from the pulpit. Living that phrase in the real world, where lives depend on you, elevates the words to life-saving action.

Many fear needles: it really does not hurt, well, maybe for just an instant. Taking the time to donate blood (about an hour every eight weeks) to save a life of somebody in surgery or bleeding as the result of a car crash is what we call in Hebrew a Mitzvah, a righteous act.

And there are too many individuals who want their bodies left intact after their demise. To what end? If the organs can be used by another human being after they are no longer needed by us, great! Help somebody to live a healthier, more enjoyable and successful life, and in a way keep the deceased “alive.”

I’ve been a blood donor for decades, probably gallons of my blood have been used to save the lives of teens, adults and infants. And becoming a blood donor has truly saved my life (but that’s a story for another time).

On my driver’s license is that small heart indicating that I have a big heart — to share with unknown others what my body cannot any longer use, and which they cannot live without.

Daily, throughout life we make critical choices. Choosing to share life should be an easy decision. Contact DMV and Vitalant for specific details. Make your life even more worth living, by sharing it with others. It’s an easy choice, just like the good choices I’m trying to teach my granddaughter to make… and you will feel great knowing that you will give life to somebody who needs YOU!

Thanks.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D., is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. A volunteer police chaplain, he regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


Photo: ID 161753002 © Andrii Zastrozhnov | Dreamstime.com

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