They need your blood, but…

I donated my blood yesterday, for the 22nd time. Had to go to work for a couple of hours afterwards (“had to” as in personal obligation only,  Polish law gives you right to a day off after blood donation)  and as a consequence  felt dizzy the whole evening. You should consider doing it, too.  Dizziness is not a big deal.

I don’t know for other countries, but over here you constantly hear public health officials whining on TV that they need more blood in the blood banks and that too few people donate. And there’s some truth in it – the blood stations are not bustling with activity, and half of the people coming there do so only because their family member is in a hospital awaiting a surgical procedure for which they will need a certain quantity of blood, so they put the procedure on hold until the family donates  the equivalent quantity. 

What is annoying, though, is that, there are so few of those blood stations (not more than 8 in 1.6 m Warsaw, for chrissakes!) and it’s so hard to find them if you don’t know where to look. Another thing is that it’s quite easy to be disqualified, that is not allowed to donate. The procedure is they give you a questionnaire to fill out. It’s design to minimise the risk your blood is not suitable. Some of the ‘wrong’ answers mean only an extended interview with an MD, some others cross you off. Two news now, one bad, one not so.

What I’m quite happy about is that they don’t directly ask  about male-male homosexual activity (I know in some countries they do that). What is disqualifying in Poland, is “risky sexual activities” (they give examples and male-male sex is one of them).  You yourself decide if what you do is “risky” or not, they only make suggestions. A step forward from the “no blood from sexually active gay men” stage. 

The bad and annoying part is that you can’t donate if you “have spent 6 months or more in Great Britain, Ireland or France in the time frame 1986-1996”. It’s about BSE and other farm-animal-to-human diseases. I understand you need to minimise risks but the point is, it’s been years since the outbreak of BSE, long years, and no case has ever been recorded of it being transmitted to humans in Poland. So, why the scare? I mean they do have blood donors in GB, Ireland and France, right? And virtually all of them spent 6 months or more over there in the given time period, right? Get my point?

I suspect that they put it up back then when everyone was hysterical about the mad cows and all that, just to stay on the safe side and then they forgot to take it down because it concerns only small number of people (not many Poles travelled to Western Europe back then). Still, it’s annoying as hell (especially that my wife is one of that small number).

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