I read this story on this blog this morning and it just immobilized me. It's from Bird by Bird, by Anne Lammot. I own that book but I've never read it, because she's kind of Christiany and spiritual and I tend to avoid that stuff.
Here is the best true story on giving I know, and it was told by Jack Kornfield of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre. An eight year old boy had a younger sister who was dying of leukemia, and he was told that without a blood transfusion she would die. His parents explained to him that his blood was probably compatible with hers, and if so, he could be the blood donor. They asked him they could test his blood. He said sure. So they did and it was a good match. Then they asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to donate the blood. So they took him to the hospital where he was put on a gurney beside his six-year-old sister. Both of them were hooked up to IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put in the girls' IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood dripped into his sister, until the doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and asked, "How soon until I start to die?"
Now, I know this story has some problems: why would it be blood and not bone marrow? Why would it only be a pint of blood? But still! What killed me when I read it was thinking of an eight-year-old boy making what he thought was the sacrifice of his actual life, and doing so while believing that his parents were willing to trade his life for his sister's.
I really hope that is not a true story.