Shameless Afternoon Tear-jerking

At the risk of being a terrible mush, I have to pass along this story. I read it in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird years ago. (I think it’s also made its way into the Chicken Soup books, but stay with me.) I remembered it today and I’ll tell you why in a sec:

An 8-year-old boy had a younger sister who was dying of leukemia, and he was told she would die without a blood transfusion. His parents explained he could be the blood donor if he was a match, and he agreed to be tested. It was a good match. So his parents asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, and that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.

The next day, he told his parents he was willing to donate the blood. They took him to the hospital, where he was put on a gurney beside his sister. The children were hooked up to IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy to put into his sister’s IV. The boy lay in silence until a doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and said, "How soon until I start to die?"

I told you it was shameless. Anyway, the reason I thought of it today is because the Step by Step Torch of Life to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation arrived in Providence yesterday. It will also stop in Warwick tomorrow before continuing its two-year, 500-city, 34-country journey from Alaska to Argentina. You can read more about the campaign at

The torch is a reminder that donor registration is easy and here: (And the Blood Center of Rhode Island, of course, is