Blood is Spiritual Currency

10 Dec

I’m the guy that blood banks love; on the plump side, rare blood type, willing to come in monthly. However, as the years go on from when I started donating blood, then platelets, my patience with blood donation has gotten thin.

I started donating blood in college, and did it enough to earn my first 1 gallon pin from the Red Cross. I was very proud of that–I still have that pin. Then I went overseas for a while, came back, went back, came back and wasn’t in a situation to give regularly. Then I started work at a hospital and that changed. The local blood bank held a blood drive and because I have… not the rarest blood type (AB+), but pretty scarce, they asked me to donate platelets.

On the surface, this can be a real pain-in-the-end. You offer to be plugged into a machine for an hour plus, they sort through your blood, and they take out the platelets and plasma. Platelets are used to help cancer patients, and they usually have to extract them from whole blood bags, which means losing most of that valuable fluid to do it. So providing them separately is very useful.

…and you can do it once a week. You can actually only do it every other week, since there’s a limit on how many times they can puncture your veins in a year, but it can be rather useful. I started earning t-shirts, pins, and of course, snacks. I had a wonderful phlebotomist that had the same last name as me and we got along great. I did that consistently for almost two years.

Then little things happened. The blood bank changed the shape of the pins from these cute little things you can put on your lanyard to big bulky ones… not as fun. I had a bike accident which broke my hand, so I was out for a while. Then we moved to a different city. There the phlebotomists were not that friendly and it was a different blood bank so my “gallon credits” had to be reset at zero. Then I had a job that had me leaving town every week, and “wasting” my time at home at the blood bank became less and less appealing.

I didn’t go back for years. Eventually, I became consistent once I was working from home, but… I’m getting older. My platelet count can’t reach the desired amount more than once a month. And then COVID hit and… okay, we wear the masks thing, but I swear they have a lot less personnel. Which leads to my main gripe. I’m used to sitting in the chair hooked to the machine for an hour and a half–I’m NOT used to waiting to get to the chair for an hour. So a 12:30 pm appointment means I don’t get in the chair until 1:15-30. Which means when I have to leave at 3 pm to pick up my daughter from school, I’m barely finishing up!

So now, I’m just donating whole blood. It only takes 15 minutes in the chair and they can’t bug me for six weeks. I don’t care if it’s not as useful, they’ve made it more difficult to be a donor, and it was already a pain-in-the-end. So you’re stuck with what I’m willing to give you, rather than what I -can- give you, because you decided to streamline your staffing. Oh well.

Do you have this problem? Would you like to give but the blood bank makes it a hurdle too high? Let me know in the comments below!

2 Responses to “Blood is Spiritual Currency”

  1. spwilcen December 10, 2020 at 11:43 am #

    “Progress” everywhere.

  2. Veena Hegde Bhat December 13, 2020 at 10:27 am #

    Very noble cause.

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