The Gift of Life… It Ain't What It Used To Be…
I work with a great guy, and he is the first one to volunteer to help around the community. He has his reasons for not supporting some organizations, as he will tell you. But get him launched on a good cause and he will infect our office with the merits of it until we all are dancing about singing the praises of his efforts. So it was with his blood drive.
It has been some time since I have donated blood, something I used to consider a ritual. The Army always gave me the opportunity to do it regularly, and I always felt good about it. But it has been several years, and it was time I got back into it. So, I went along.
It was fairly uneventful at first. It was in a clean basement in his church, and was comparatively non-antiseptic, as far as blood-giving places go. I met a few nice folks, and I had a chair to sit in while I waited. I was preparing a study of the ship Titanic which sank in 1915, so I had a great book to read.
A real nice guy summoned me to a table to fill out some paperwork. It has been three years, but I didn't recall any paperwork when I gave blood before. Anyway, there was the "name, rank and serial number" stuff, which I filled out in just a few minutes.
"Fill out all the blue boxes, and leave the 'other questions' for us…" he was saying. I glanced over a few of them, but I really didn't read them. More nurse stuff, I thought, and I went back to the great book. Did you know that a sailor on the Titanic survived… then was sole survivor on a second boat… then was lucky enough to go out on his next voyage on the Luisitania, the passenger ship who's sinking brought the USA into WWI??? He survived that too…. Then they called me again.
"Say… what's that… my ear? You are going to prick my ear? To test for what? Iron?" Anyway, they drip a little blood into a liquid, and if it sinks, it has enough iron for them to take it. Mine want to the bottom just like the Titanic. You know, no one ever pricked my ear before…
Now came the tough part… The nurse was a real sweet kid… they are all kids to me these days… and she took me back behind a curtain. She had to ask me some personal questions… obviously the ones I hadn't read before.
She was embarrassed, I was to learn. I noticed she was more nervous than I, but I didn't understand. She mumbled a while, and I tried hard to catch what she said.
"Can you say it a little louder?" She fidgeted.
I knew something was wrong.
She started over. "Have you ever, even once, had sex with a man, in the past ten years?"
"What the heck did you say?" Honest, I didn't mean to say it. It just popped out, a knee-jerk response to an absurd question, before I could think. She was startled now, as well as embarrassed. I coughed, apologized, and then I started to laugh. It was a really nervous laugh. I was embarrassed. It was only the beginning.
"Have you ever been treated for (various sexually transmitted diseases) or paid for sex from a prostitute in the past year… use drugs… or have AIDS… or suspect that you might catch AIDS…". I squirmed till it was over. Nope. Not me. Honest. No matter how bad I look…
OK, I am grateful that the Red Cross is so careful. Offended people probably should have no place in the pure-blood process. But I am offended.
The conservative's are getting a lot of bad press for the discussion of sexual abstinence with high school kids. But there is only one recognized and currently vogue (Thank Heaven!) method for the prevention of lung (and other types of tobacco related) cancer. It is not the use of alternatives, nor the use of prophylactics or magic cures. It is simple abstinence. It ain’t politically correct to say this, but the ONLY method certain to prevent STD’s… sexually transmitted diseases… is also that dirty “A” word… abstinence. All that discussion of condom stuff? It is not perfect prevention. And did you ever read those instructions? Who does all that??
I know. There really are innocent victims of AIDS.
But there is a lot of suffering to be prevented with abstinence and fidelity. And remember this the next time you hear someone tell a kid his instincts are normal and natural and don't have to be controlled… and oh yeah, here’s a banana so we can show you how to do this.
Your loved one may need this blood one day…
And I could have been lying…
About the author
You do have a way to pique one's interest, Dan. There was a time that I also gave blood on a regular basis....but then I spent 3 years in Haiti, so henceforth my place of residence became an issue when I volunteered to give blood. But no more blood donations from me, because I also had malaria, so nobody accepts my blood anymore.
I did not mention this... but I am not allowed to donate blood any more due to my tour in Germany, and my proximity to Mad Cow from Irish beef.