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According to Talmud (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a),

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

I wonder, does it apply to someone who donated blood to be used as part of a transfusion?

For the purposes of this question, lets assume:

  • The blood was received by a person who would die without blood transfusion
  • Giver's blood was received by chance. There is nothing specific about giver's blood other then that it was available when needed and was of right type
  • Giver does not know whether blood was used to save a life or as part of a routine surgery
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Hello JAM and welcome to J.SE! Thanks for bringing your very interesting question here. Hope to see you around! –  Hacham Gabriel Feb 27 '12 at 1:48
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Thank you Hacham. Good to be here. –  Jam Feb 27 '12 at 1:59
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Why wouldn't it? –  Double AA Feb 27 '12 at 2:52
    
@Vram Do you know that they throw out extra blood every so often? I doubt they do. If they don't then your blood is guaranteed to save someone's life (or 3 people). This is especially true of O- blood which is rare and useful. –  Double AA Feb 27 '12 at 2:57
    
Agreed with @DoubleAA comment 5 –  Hacham Gabriel Feb 27 '12 at 3:50
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2 Answers

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I don't understand the question. The statement that a person who saves one life, saves the world is an aggadic statement, not a halachic one. Halacha does not allow you to sacrifice one life for the sake of many.

If you save a life, that is a great and wonderful thing. If you think you are saving a life, but don't actually do so, it doesn't take away the good actions that you are doing. It does not matter if you actually save a life, or just get yourself into a position to help save a life, all are great and wonderful things to do.

Moral dictums that may never apply, or may not apply based on the particularities of a case, are still valid as general moral statements.

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Avi, I made a minor edit. Feel free to revert if you think I've changed the intent. I was confused by your final sentence, so I tried rewording to make it clearer to the reader (myself included). –  Seth J Feb 27 '12 at 17:37
    
@SethJ Thank you. –  avi Feb 27 '12 at 17:49
    
@Vram there are lots of reasons why that case does not apply to the general halachic rule. –  avi Feb 28 '12 at 5:53
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Of course donating blood to a total stranger counts as saving a life. If you donate $10 to feed the hungry or help the tornado victims in Moore, OK, it doesn't matter if other people give more. You still did it. As a Catholic Christian nurse I have performed the Heimlich maneuver on choking geriatric patients several times. This is not heroic in a health care center but I was there and did it so I count that also.

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welcome to Mi Yodeya sharon, thanks for this answer. adding sources to support your claim would improve this answer as well. –  not-allowed to change my name May 27 '13 at 18:17
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