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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I donated blood yesterday, for the second time ever.

The first time was just about a year ago. Spurred on partially by Jeremy and partially by the National Blood Service TV ads (god, that music—I was welling up just listening to it on the website), I finally overcame my complacency and trundled down to Hove Town Hall to donate a pint.

I admit, I was a bit nervous. I’m not particularly squeamish about needles or blood, but I don’t especially like to be jabbed and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the whole procedure. As it turned out, it was absolutely fine; all the “donor carers” were gentle and reassuring, and frankly, they make you feel like a bit of hero for being willing to donate at all. Plus, you get tea and biscuits afterwards—yay!

Between going to Thailand in February and then traveling back and forth to the States throughout the year, Jeremy and I couldn’t donate again until this month (because of the risk of malaria from Thailand and West Nile virus from the States). But yesterday, after a fortifying lunch at E-Kagen, we headed over to the donation session for our second round of bloodletting.

After it was over, Jeremy said that the whole thing had restored his faith in humanity, and while it may sound funny, I have to agree. You see an entire cross-section of the population at these donation sessions; yesterday there was a big guy with tattoos (which he must have gotten a long time ago or else he couldn’t have donated), a kid in a hoodie, older men and women, people who had clearly just nipped out from the office, a hip couple in their 20s… It was a little snapshot of Brighton, and I wondered what had prompted each person to come and donate. Whatever the reason, the important thing was that they were there, voluntarily giving a part of themselves to help someone else.

If you can donate blood and you don’t faint at the sight of a needle, I would really encourage you to do it. You’ll feel good about yourself, you’ll feel good about your fellow citizens, and you’ll be saving someone’s life.

Comments

1

Thank you Jessica this sounds very encouraging, unfortunately they don’t want my blood in Germany, I have spent too much time in the UK. I have also been taken off the bone marrow donor list I was on. Well, I have tried.

Posted by Nadine

2

Ah…Nadine…I sympathize. They don’t want my blood in the US because I’ve spent too much time in Germany! When they are always begging people to donate and you can’t because of their restrictions, it’s frustrating.

Posted by Barbara

3

Jessica - You would think that there would be ‘some’ common sense about who can give and who cannot. I gave blood regularly until about 1998, or whenever was the year of mad cow disease - UK, then Germany. I guess International Red Cross guidelines are not the same as American Red Cross guidelines or UK Red Cross and German Red Cross (is it Red Cross or Green Cross?). It is frustrating to not be able to contribute when there is always a crying need. Dad

Posted by John Spengler

4

In the UK, it’s the National Blood Service that deals with blood donations; they’re part of the National Health Service and aren’t associated with the Red Cross, and they have their own guidelines as to who can donate blood and who can’t.

Obviously, in the country worst hit by mad cow disease, they can’t very well not take blood from people who may have been exposed to it, because almost everyone here may have been exposed to it - but that’s not the case in the rest of the world, and since the disease may not manifest for decades after a person has been infected, I guess blood banks elsewhere want to minimize their risks by just not taking blood from anyone with a higher-than-average likelihood of having come into contact with it.

I fully understand the need for safety, but I agree that it seems excessive to shut out so many potential donors when there’s such a great need for blood. It also makes it hard on all of you who really want to donate blood but can’t. Maybe you should all come spend a month in the UK and then donate here! :-)

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