Kids Corner


Blood & Guts




The group of urban dog walkers and I were on hospital beds watching our cells, platelets and hemoglobin molecules flow from the crooks of our elbows into pint sized bags.

In a nutshell - our blood was being drawn.

The Stanford Blood Center is mostly white with splashes of red adorning the walls and with pictures of people whose lives we are saving. Like Meghan.

She had a blood disease that forced her to receive 17 units of donated blood a day.

And Madeline. She is a five-year-old with heart problems, who received 11 units of donated blood.

And Brennah. She collided with a semi-trailer when she was 7 years old and received 9 units of donated blood.

We are donors - the urban dog walkers and I. When I open the double doors of the blood center, I have already decided to give the elixir in my veins to people who need it more than I do. I am part of an elite group. Only 3% of California's Bay Area.

I fill out forms asking detailed questions of my medical history.No, I do not have babeiosis.

I am led into a confessional style room to get my finger pricked by a smiling nurse.

Does it hurt, honey?

Trust me, it's nothing a Sikh can't handle.

I emerge to proclaim proudly that, "Yes! My blood is usable."

I am led to a hospital bed, asked which arm I prefer, and then told to relax. I watch the nurses shuffle around, gather the blood bag, the tubes, the iodine, the needle - I look away.

The nurse asks me how I am feeling. I say I am fine. I ask her how she is feeling. She is also fine. Her name is Mary Ann and she has blue eyes.

She pokes my arm with a metal ring. She finds my vein, pinches it a couple of times. She coats my skin with iodine, thoroughly, until it is a pukish-yellow color. She sets up the bag, the tubes, the needle. She tells me not to look. I feel a short sharp pain in my right arm. The needle is in.

"Are you feeling okay?"

I'm fine. It's nothing a Sikh can't handle.

I watch the blood trickle out of my arm and into the bag. And I think to myself, that this is my sacrifice. If the Sikhs of old gave their blood on the battlefield, fighting against oppression, then I give mine in a blood center, fighting against disease. If they risked their lives and felt the sharp pain of an enemy's sword, then I risk my time and feel the sharp pain of a nurse's needle. If they died as martyrs, then at least I will die a blood-donor.

"I've donated before," I tell Mary Ann, "But how do I know if they ever used my blood?"

She looks up at me. "They did."

I know that my pint of blood pales in comparison to the lives laid down selflessly throughout the tumultuous history of our religion. I know that my sacrifice is not enormous, but I believe that it is enough for now.


[Kanwalroop Kaur Singh is 17 years old and resides in Cupertino, California, U.S.A. She has written for Stanford University's weekly newspaper, is the founder and editor-in-chief of her school literary magazine, and the copy editor of her school newspaper. She looks forward to attending college in the fall.] 

April 28, 2010


Conversation about this article

1: Gur Singh (Boston, MA, U.S.A.), April 28, 2010, 10:25 AM.

Good article. Remember: There are many more things a Sikh like you needs to do for the sake of this world. Also, I want to add, for the benefit of all who do or will donate blood: you WILL feel or, at least, be a bit weak immediately after giving blood. Please do avail of whatever advice or assistance the nurse offers you.

2: Manraj Singh (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), April 28, 2010, 1:47 PM.

This is a very nicely written article. I can see your enthusiasm and devotion to good deeds and your Sikh religion. I've thought about donating blood for years, but these thoughts never materialized. Well, until now. Just after reading this article, I've made an appointment at the Canadian Blood services. I'm looking forward to my first experience and becoming a regular donor, hopefully. Thanks for sharing your experience.

3: Manpreet Singh (San Jose, California, U.S.A.), April 29, 2010, 10:06 PM.

Glad to read such a nice article. Thanks for sharing your views and experience.

4: Randhir Singh (Mohali, Punjab), May 07, 2010, 9:31 AM.

Good to read such a good article and you, like your parents and grandparents, do have a value for Sikhism. Keep it up and may Waheguru bless you!

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