When browsing news sites, I came across this story about an Israeli girl in Peru who has developed some medical problem for which she requires massive blood transfusions. Her poor state of health means she cannot be moved. So appeals are being issued for Israeli travellers in Peru to donate blood. They are also planning to fly out blood from Israel for her.
The family of 21-year-old Zohar Katz, from Kibbutz Yotvata in southern Israel, is reaching out to Israelis traveling in the area and asking them to come to the hospital in Lima and donate A positive, A negative and AB blood to cleanse her body and minimize her critical condition, reported Ynet.
...Many answered the call, but the effort was hampered by strict regulations preventing those vaccinated within the previous six months from donating. Hikers visiting South America usually have a round of vaccinations three months before their trip.
“Dozens of people from the community as well as many travelers have arrived in the last couple days,” Israeli consul Limor Sherman said. “The main problem is that since most of them have received vaccinations in recent months, they are ineligible to donate.”
Magen David Adom stepped up and said it would fly the necessary blood units to Peru after overcoming the international bureaucracy. The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is aware of the case and that it is being handled.Source
Well, this is a bit strange, I thought. Why don't they just get blood from Peruvians? Is there some restriction on Jews accepting the "impure blood" of Gentiles?
So I Jewgled a bit to find out more about this. Yes, it turns out, there are indeed some rabbis who claim it is improper to accept the impure blood of Gentiles. However, as far as I can make out, there isn't a clear consensus on the issue. It's possible that this girl's family is imposing limits on the blood they are willing to accept and thus endangering her life, perhaps even likely, but I can't be sure of it. It's certainly interesting that none of the articles about her mention the reason that blood has to be sought from Israel or from Israeli travellers.
In the course of researching this, I found this discussion about the halachic rules surrounding the giving or receiving of blood, and it is very interesting in its own right.
Several contemporary poskim have noted that Jews must participate in any life saving procedure with negligible risk in order to save a fellow Jew (Nishmas Avraham IV: Even Haezer:80, Responsa Shevet Halevi V:219), and this seems both logical and correct: just like a person must spend small sums of money to save the life of a person, he must inconvenience himself by taking minuscule risk (like the risk of crossing the street). Several poskim have noted that the minimal discomfort of donating blood is certainly halachically insignificant. It therefore follows that if a Jew is in need of blood and one refuses to give, he is in violation of “lo sa’amod al dam re’echa” (Shearim Metzuyanim B’halacha 190)
It should be noted, however, that traditional rabbinic sources point to a clear distinction between our obligation to save the lives of fellow Jews and our attitude toward saving the lives of non-Jews. Specifically, the aforementioned imperative to actively save lives explicitly refers to Jewish lives (לא תעמוד על דם רעך). When it comes to saving non-Jewish lives Chazal (Sanhedrin 57a) were much more ambivalent, and ruled that non-Jews should neither be thrown into a pit nor saved from a pit into which they are thrown. Similarly, Chazal prohibited violating Shabbos in order to save a non-Jewish life (Mishnah Yoma 8:7). Of course, common practice is not only to actively save non-Jewish lives, but also to violate Shabbos in order to do so. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggeros Moshe Orach Chaim V:25) explained that the imperative to save non-Jews is critical for Jewish survival in our times. If Jews were to deny treatment to non-Jews the resulting fallout would be nothing short of disastrous, as society would not take very kindly to such discriminatory policies and would rightfully justify such discriminatory practices on their own part. Though the Gemara (Avoda Zara 26a) reasons that non-Jews will surely understand that we may only violate the Shabbos for the sake of those who observe Shabbos, Rav Moshe points out that such arguments are not very likely to be accepted by the gentile society in general. Rav Moshe concludes by emphasizing that there is no need to prove from earlier sources that one may violate biblical prohibitions to save gentile lives because it is “abundantly obvious”. It would seem that similar considerations may exist with respect to donating blood to save non-Jewish lives. A communal refusal to do so is likely to be met with strong criticism and severe anti-semitism.Source
In other words, non-Jewish lives have no value in their own right. The only reason that Jews might act to save the life of a Gentile is fear that a refusal to do so might return to haunt Jews in the form of antisemitism. Note the use of the phrase "in our times": "the imperative to save non-Jews is critical for Jewish survival in our times". So, because "in our times", Jews are to a large degree dependent on the goodwill of the goyim, they must save their lives in order to avoid incurring their disapprobation. But, in some hypothetical past or future state, that may not be true and so such "imperative" would then apply.
A second potential prohibition associated with donating blood is לא תחנם (Devarim 7:2) which the Gemara (Avoda Zara 20a) understands to include a prohibition to give “free gifts” to gentiles. Obviously this consideration would be a non-factor if the donation were going to a fellow Jew. However, even when donating to general blood banks there are several strong arguments to be made that donating blood does not violate the prohibition of לא תחנם. First, while the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 151:11 as explained by Shach ibid 18) applies this prohibition to all gentiles, many great poskim have limited the prohibition to idolaters (Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman, Rav Henkin, Rav Ahron Soloveitchik – see also Tzitz Eliezer XV:47 where he demonstrates that this was the opinion of several prominent Rishonim and concurs with their view). Second, the Turei Zahav (Yoreh Deah 151:8) rules that if one knows the gentile to whom he is giving the gift, it is permissible because it is not considered a “free” gift. When there is a reciprocal relationship one can rest assured that the generosity of giving a gift will be repaid by the gentile in one way or another. Similarly, one may argue that even when one doesn’t know precisely to whom his blood is going, there is certainly a sense of reciprocity for blood donors, as Jews who need blood will receive blood as a direct result of the blood banks that we support. Additionally, a person who carries a blood donor card is likely to be treated with greater care should he ever find himself in the hospital. The value to all members of a society in having functional and fully stocked blood banks is immeasurable. Just as a Jew may, and must, pay taxes even if some of the roads paved with the tax money may never be traversed by a Jew, a Jew may give blood that may not be used to help another Jew. The reason that this is permissible is not simply one of a reciprocal relationship, but of fully participating in a system that benefits all of us. Supporting a broad system that benefits countless people, and thousands of Jews amongst them, is difficult to categorize as a “free gift” to gentiles.So Jews approach the giving of blood in the mean spirit of haggling for some advantage to be gained, thus perfectly validating one of the classic Jewish stereotypes.
A third possible stringent factor may be the application of the rule of majority. One of the primary claims of those who wish to prohibit donating blood to blood banks is that the majority of those who need the blood are gentiles. Assuming that the prohibition of לא תחנם (discussed above) applies to contemporary blood donations to gentiles, one may argue that the prohibition would apply even though there are many Jews who may ultimately receive the blood. This is based on the principle that we follow the majority (Shemos 23:2). There are two reasons that this application of the rule of majority is likely incorrect. First, Chazal (Kesuvos 15b) suspend the rule of majority in situations that involve a threat to life. Certainly the need for sufficient blood supply in hospitals is one of life and death. Therefore, even if one were to accept a prohibition to donate blood to a gentile, the possibility that the blood may go to a Jew is sufficient to outweigh any such negative considerations. Second, Rabbi J.D. Bleich has suggested that since the blood is distributed in a hospital, which is a set location. The law of majority only applies to situations where something is removed from its set location, but regardless of actual ratios the halacha treats anything that is stationary (i.e. in a set location) as a fifty percent doubt (Yoma 84b, Kesuvos 15a and elsewhere). Therefore, even if ninety five percent of the patients in the hospital are gentiles, the halacha treats the situation as if fifty percent are Jewish and fifty percent are gentiles.Jews aren't allowed to carry out some "benevolent" act if the majority of those likely to benefit from it are Gentiles. Who knew?
Finally, Rabbi Menashe Klein (Responsa Mishnah Halachos IV:245), after discussing various halachic considerations associated with blood donation, suggests that it is “inappropriate” for a Jew to give of his soul (blood is equated to the soul in Judaism) which is sanctified as Jewish blood and allow it to flow through the impure veins of a gentile. Rabbi Klein poetically refers to the blood of the person “crying out” from the gentile veins. Considering the utter lack of halachic sources to back up what seems to be a frivolous argument it does not seem necessary to rebut this claim in any meaningful way other than to point out that it is most curious that Rabbi Klein does not express any similar hesitation about a holy Jew receiving the impure blood of a gentile.Pure Jewish blood "cries out" from its prison in the impure veins of the Goyim! It's Annudaholocaust!