First time blood donor alert!
That’s right, I recently stopped by the Canadian Blood Services clinic on College street and gave them a pint (I think?) of the good stuff. Now this wasn’t just a random occurrence, but I’ll address that later.
Given that the CBS is constantly on the hunt for Blood Donors and there is not shortage of access to clinics in which to donate, it seems a bit off that I haven’t bothered to donate until now in my almost 32 years, right? Wrong.
1. Because, needles.
2. I use to have this crazy theory that my body parts were my own to keep forever and ever amen – ie. no organ donation, those are mine dammit.
Much like many of the loudly touted theories of my youth, this too has passed.
3. Traveling, piercings, tattoos. Apparently these are an issue and have periodically eliminated my eligibility for blood donation – though to be fair I was mostly unaware of this at the time.
4. CBS Policies, specifically the MSM policy and last spring’s adjustment to the deferral period.
5. Because, needles.
The impetus for my June 27th appointment with CBS hinged on point 4 above. While the MSM policy shouldn’t affect me directly (for straight females the actions of any of partners would be considered), the implications of the policy affect many of my dearest friends and I saw the move to adjust the deferral period as half-hearted at best.
I was informed by my friend Korean that there was an opportunity to participate in an Ally Blood Donor Clinic, whereby a male who is unable to donate due to the MSM policy finds someone to donate on their behalf. Given that this is viewed as an LGBT issue, the use of the term Ally makes sense. This particular clinic was during World Pride here in Toronto and was the perfect opportunity to draw attention to the policy and the deferral period while also offering an opportunity for the community to drum up some support in terms of Blood Donations. Most of the other people I heard at the clinic were first time blood donors as well, so that alone shows the strength of the campaign.
I was actually surprised at how manual intensive the blood donation process is in terms of staff contact – I dealt with five separate individuals including administration and nurses. I definitely understand the need for all of the screening questions and interviews, but my mind was racing at time and cost savings opportunities while watching the nurse apply like 19 different labels to the various tubes and blood bags required just for my donation. Everyone I dealt with was super friendly and very thorough with explaining the process and making sure I was there as a willing candidate.
I’ll spare the details of the actual donation, either than to say I squealed like a two year old during both insertion and removal of the needle – even though it barely hurt, I’m such a moron. Thankfully my body didn’t seem to mind the process at all and either than some stiffness in my hand on my donation site arm, I really didn’t feel anything at all. Which is probably a good thing since despite the ‘no alcohol’ policy for the day of donation, I definitely imbibed while celebrating at Pride!
Also fun, due to the nature of the campaign and its occurence during World Pride, there was media presence at the clinic, and I even made the front page of the Toronto Star online! Hilariously, Metro News re-posted the link online and made a bit of a faux pas while creating their blurb, falsely listing me as a University of Toronto AIDS researcher and the person that started this clinic to begin with – oooh promotion!
I think the best part of the whole experience was watching the link get passed around by texts then facebook, and seeing the positivity it promoted. Plus, lots of extra hugs at Pride 🙂 I also was given a first time blood donor pin (swag!) and a red plastic bracelet similar to the yellow ones of Live Strong fame. It didn’t actually say Blood Strong on it, but it totally should have!
According to Canadian Blood Services approximately every minute of every day someone in Canada needs blood. While not everyone is eligible, I encourage you to check out the eligibility information on Can I Donate on the CBS’s website – it’s in you to give.