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
  • 2
    Hello JAM and welcome to J.SE! Thanks for bringing your very interesting question here. Hope to see you around! Feb 27, 2012 at 1:48
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    Why wouldn't it?
    – Double AA
    Feb 27, 2012 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, 2012 at 2:57
  • Agreed with @DoubleAA comment 5 Feb 27, 2012 at 3:50
  • @Vram Certainly for the rarer blood types. Note that blood has a shelf life of some time so the supply and demand even themselves out over time.
    – Double AA
    Feb 27, 2012 at 4:18

2 Answers 2


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.


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.

  • 2
    welcome to Mi Yodeya sharon, thanks for this answer. adding sources to support your claim would improve this answer as well. May 27, 2013 at 18:17

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