A True Brother

Anne Lamott shares this amazing cancer story in Bird by Bird. Have a Kleenex handy.


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 if 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 girl’s 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?”



2 thoughts on “A True Brother

  1. DaNene, thanks for taking time to write and for the information you provided about the story. I found it in Anne Lamott’s book and she quoted Jack Kornfield. Your knowledge traces it back even farther. I’ve posted your comment in my blog to give credit to the original source Especially for Mormons.

    Thanks again.

  2. I truly love this story, and I am not in any way meaning to take away the spirit of what this story means to a cancer patient or anyone else that this story helps, but……. it is not a new story, nor a new cancer story as labeled. This story was published at least 30+ years ago in a book called “Especially for Mormons”. This book has many volumes (each a different color). I do not know what volume it is in, but I can tell you that this particular book with this particular story has a lime green cover. I used this story in a talk at church when I was a young girl. There are many wonderfully inspiring stories in these “Especialy for Mormons” books, and all I ask is that credit is given to the person who actually had this experience or wrote this story originally.


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