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knit me more time...
Monday, September 05, 2005

Jo and I went to donate blood today. We made appointments online last week, as after donating some clothes and a little money we felt like we had to do something more. Jo had never donated before, so it was all new to her. I used to donate pretty regularly back when I lived in NY but the last time I donated was way back on 9/12/01. That day, I stood in a very long line with about a thousand other people because we all thought there would be survivors who would need blood. Everyone was turned away, accept for those of us who are O-negative. That was the last time I donated. We got to the Red Cross center, right on time for our appointments. We ended up checking in with a not-all-there older man, and then sitting down to wait with others. The place was run so haphazardly that I couldn't even believe it. Nurses would come out and ask for the next person- we would all look at each other- and then whoever wanted to would just get up and go. We started to get impatient, but we were there as volunteers, so how much complaining can you do? Finally, I decided that Jo and I should go next. I got in the little room, and began answering all their questions. I almost made a joke about being pretty boring or something as all I kept saying was "no, no, no." Then, we got to a question I didn't remember from before. Did I live in the UK for more than 3 months since 1980? Yes. I did live there was I was a kid around 84-85. She checked her computer and then told me I could not donate. Ever. The reason- they have no blood test yet for mad cow disease. I was surprised and pointed out I used to donate regularly. It turns out that new regulation, she remembered, began on 9/14/2001. I pointed out they always wanted my 0-negative blood and she said "not any more." Then she wanted to know what it was like being in NYC on 9/11. I told her it was nothing like being in New Orleans right now was, and left it at that. So then I got to wait well over another hour for Jo to finish donating. The scene in the waiting room became more tense. The older man at the desk was clearly not writing down the order people had arrived in (or writing down anything at all). He didn't seem to care that some had made appointments, and that some had been there for as long as I had. The nurses would come out and ask for the next person and when people looked confused they would throw up their hands and say "well, whoever is next just go in that room- I don't care who is, so work it out among yourselves." This didn't go over well. Someone asked the man at the desk- "what? you aren't writing down our names?" He said "No. I am just a volunteer. I don't know who is next. I just have this list of appointments. I don't write down names..." and went back to putting red bracelets on notecards. One woman was not satisfied with this. She wanted an appointment so she could come back after running errands. Okay. Whatever. I waited so long for Jo that I started to worry about if she had passed out, and whether or not they would know to tell me that she had. She eventually came out- red bandages around both arms. They had to poke her multiple times in each arm to get enough blood out of her. But at least they wanted her blood! In the waiting room, I told her I had been disqualified. The woman who wanted to run errands looked at me in horror. I swear she thought I must have slept with a gay man, or something equally disqualifying and horrific. So, I explained to Jo it was because I had lived in England... and the woman went back to her Ladies Home Journal.

posted by knit wit | 9/05/2005 06:55:00 PM

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