Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Frustrating attempt to do something good today.

Blood drive at work, so I went to donate.  I'm a "universal donor" so I really should give more often.

I was a little nervous about having to list where I'd travelled outside the US and Canada in the last 3 years, particularly since Turkey and Russia are on that list and I didn't know if either of those would cause problems.

Turns out it's fine to give blood if you've recently been to Russia, I didn't even have to identify the cities we visited to have it clear (but in Greece and Turkey I did). 

I'm not completely clear on Greece.  A trip to Athens allows you to still donate, but Fira, Thira, Santorini wasn't listed (I couldn't remember what the island's name was in English!  I think Santorini, and I think Fira is Greek and Thira is Italian, but either way, I checked all three, not listed).  So I told the woman who was screening me that I thought it would count as "Ionian Islands" and you're clear to give blood if you've been there.

And it's fine to give blood if you've recently been to Turkey, or at least Istanbul -- since I had to indicate where, presumably the whole country isn't clear.

So I was all set.  Good BP, good hemoglobin.  Selected my donation arm, survived the stick, blood started flowing.  I tried to do some reading for work.

They came to mess with the needle a couple times and just said they'd let me go, even though it was slow.  I wouldn't be setting any donation speed records.  No big deal.

So I sat, squeezed the ball, sat, squeezed the ball.  Eventually it turns out my blood clotted in the needle so I gave less than a full unit and they had to pitch it.

Turns out if you donate less than the full unit, all that you donate is garbage.  And once the blood has stopped flowing, they can't just hook you back up to the bag to finish filling it using a different vein or arm or something.

Useless.  I should have asked if they could try pumping it back into me, or, just to freak them out, since I read Twilight last year, I should have asked if I could just have it to drink.  But really, I wish they could have just made a small incision on my belly and poured it back in.

Major frustration.  I am planning to end my yoga streak tonight that I started Jan. 7 (since I have a work dinner tomorrow night and can't attend yoga anyway), and now I'm probably going to have a crappy class because they took blood but not enough for it to be of any use to them.  I could handle a crappy yoga class if at least I felt like I had done something to help someone else.  But it was all for naught.

And now I don't think I can give again for about 4 years, since we're planning to go to China in the fall and two of the cities we're visiting aren't on the "clear" list. 

But after this wasted effort, sadly, I'm not really inclined to do it again even when I'm cleared again.


  1. The same thing happened to me last time I gave blood! Normally they find my veins quite easily, but not that day. After approximately 15,000 sticks, they finally found a vein. Halfway done, the blood stopped and they tossed the bag. They asked if I was up for tying the other arm. I said if they could get a vein on the first attempt, yes. And they did. This time, a full bag. I was wiped out though and needed extra cookies and juice.

  2. Interesting! They didn't have to do multiple sticks for me, but they didn't offer to try my other arm after the left one crapped out. Not sure I would have agreed anyway after wasting all this time during a work day and knowing I have 90 minutes of yoga in my near future. Very nice of you to offer up more than a unit of blood!