Posted January 6th, 2012 @ 06:24pm by Erik J. Barzeski
I donated blood today. When I called to see if they were busy, the girl answered by telling me that "we are pretty dead."
I first had to show my ID. I answered a questionnaire, which asked me if I'd had sex with anyone who was paid in "cash, drugs, or _____" (I forget the third thing - I know it wasn't food stamps ), among other things. My finger was pricked for iron testing. When that passed, the nurse gave me a sticker sheet with two bar codes. Next to one was "use my blood" and next to the other "don't use my blood." She said "choose one, put it in this box here on the form, and throw the sticker sheet out. Don't ask me why." I obliged, except for not asking her why. She didn't tell me.
Then, I was led back to the room. I was given a Coke "because it was my first time" and assumed I should try to drink it before she drew blood. So I did, and she was surprised that I was done already. Incidentally, it was one of those white cans of Coke that people mistook for Diet Coke. I admit I thought for a second it was Diet too, as I'd never seen one of these cans in person.
After making me turn away (she said people will faint, throw up, or scream and run away) I asked how long it would take. She said 5-15 minutes. When I was done in about three minutes, she said that was the fastest she'd ever seen. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I waited for ten minutes to make sure I wouldn't faint or something, ate some snacks and drank some juice, and walked out.
I was surprised to see that men could not donate blood at all if you'd had sexual contact with another man since 1977. I know that early on AIDS/HIV rates were high among gay men, but is that still the case? Or are we just applying 1983 thinking to 2011? Can't they test the blood of a gay man just the same as they'll test my blood? At any rate, Britain lifted the ban in 2011, so perhaps the U.S. is not far behind. There are a few other articles out there on the topic, but it interests me enough to skim and link to one, and write this paragraph, but no more than that.