They said I couldn’t give blood… I guess I went there in vein!
|June 2, 2012||Posted by Rosie Watterson under satire|
I have a new hatred to add to my collection: blood donation adverts. Don’t get me wrong, blood donation is a brilliant thing; not only is it vital for saving lives, but it’s a charitable, selfless act. Until a few years ago I hadn’t thought about it much, assuming that when I was 17 I could leisurely stroll up, donate blood, eat some chocolate and that would be that. How wrong I was. This isn’t an anecdotal article about a terrible blood donating experience I had – if only I had got that far! This is about the ridiculously high standards set by an organization that is apparently in desperate need of volunteers, and about the misleading adverts claiming inclusiveness.
Here are a few examples of the criteria that make you unable to give blood:
- Do you have a cough, sore throat or cold sore? That’s practically everyone during the winter, and any student during exam season.
- Are you pregnant? Or do you have a child under 6 months?
- Are you under 7st 12lb or a female under 20 who is under 10st 3lb?
- Have you received a donated egg or embryo, or had a blood transfusion since 1980? If so, you cannot give blood, ever. But it was 30 years ago? Still no.
- Have you had jaundice?
- Have you had a piercing, acupuncture, a tattoo or a cosmetic treatment in the last 12 months? That’s everyone I know.
- Have you been outside the UK in the last 12 months? You can still give blood if the place you visited happens to fall in their apparently random selection of places; I wonder if they throw darts at a globe to choose them?
Those were annoying, and in my opinion very picky, but it’s these next ones that really drive me up the wall.
- Are you a man that has had sex with another man in the last 12 months?
If so, you cannot give blood. The Whitehall figure for the gay population of the UK is 3.6 million, so that is potentially 3.6 million people who cannot give blood (taking into consideration the lesbian population who are unaffected). I find this criteria almost insulting, as though Give Blood assumes that every gay man has a blood-borne infection. Instead of merely screening the blood, which they do anyway, they rule out several million people and yet claim they are desperately in need.
- Are you a woman who has had sex with a man, within the last 12 months, that has ever had sex with another man. If so, you cannot give blood.
Meet Nancy. Nancy is married to Dave. 20 years ago Dave slept with a man. “No problem,” Nancy thinks, “It was 20 years ago so it’ll be fine.” They go to the blood donation clinic. Dave gives blood, but Nancy can’t. If it’s about blood-borne infections then Dave is much more likely to pass one on than Nancy, but as long as Nancy sleeps with Dave she can never ever give blood. Ever. It’s bloody ridiculous, if you’ll excuse the pun.
- Have you ever been given money for sex?
I hasten to point out that this is not personally applicable, but I’m not going to judge anyone on how they pay their taxes. This criteria seems ridiculous to me. If a person does not have an STI, surely they are as eligible as anyone else? At least as eligible as someone who received soft furnishings for their sexual services, which, coincidentally, Give Blood seems to have no problem with.
So, owing to various combinations of these restrictions at least 10 people I know including myself cannot give blood. This seems to me to be an absurd waste, but hey, what do I know? It’s Give Blood imposing these rules and then proceeding to advertise on the television with claims that donations are at an all time low that I find repugnant.
“Most people can give blood.” Really? Because I’m not sure I know anyone!