Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hard Sell: The Blood Bank and Me

I got a call a little bit ago from the Red Cross folks about scheduling a new blood donation. I donate pretty regularly and have for a while.

They always thank me for my past donations, and then go into a spiel about how my blood has saved so many lives and how they're short on blood of my special type (not so special, but whatever), and so on.

They don't need to. I'm happy to be healthy enough to give and I try to give regularly. All I need is to remember that it's time.

But the spiel makes me feel like they're sort of lying. I can't have saved that many lives, because some of the blood has to have gone to people who weren't saved, or who weren't saved but made more comfortable, or who weren't saved but were a little healthier for a while longer, or whatever. And I'll bet some of my blood has ended up getting tossed because it was out of the fridge too long or whatever. I'm okay with that, because that's how life works. Even in the best systems, there's some waste and loss. And even my very special blood can't actually be an elixer of life every time.

And they've always got exactly the same three day supply of my blood type. Is that because they pretty much always have a three day supply? In summer it's OMG, we need blood because it's summer! In spring it's OMG, we need blood because it's spring, and so on. It's always a three day supply.

I don't know; the spiel irritates me. It's supposed to make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and it doesn't.


Bonus whining about the stupid book and blood: I find it hard to "buy" a female post-pubescent character who faints at the sight of a little blood (as in, a drop or two, pricked from a finger for a blood typing exercise in school). Seriously, you'd think she'd have fainted in the bathroom a couple times a day for a week a month and whacked her head something awful, wouldn't you? It's not like she'd survive hitting her head on bathroom tiles all the time. (Do vampires get turned on by menstrual blood? Driven crazy by the smell? Inquiring minds want to know.)

One last thing: do they even do blood typing exercises in high school or college biology classes anymore? Wouldn't the powers that be totally panic at the merest possibility that someone might have HIV or Hep [alphabet] or something?


  1. My mom faints like that. It's really embarrassing.

  2. Anonymous5:26 AM

    We had such a blood typing exercise in high school (a loooong time ago though) and it wasn't a girl, but the most macho guy in class who fainted!

  3. Really, Sara? How did she survive? (And, I guess I'm wrong, then.) Thanks :)

    Anon, Yes, we did too, back before HIV made it to our awareness.

  4. She just did, it wasn't a big deal. It happens, she's not really phobic, but as a kid it was really embarrassing. Every time at Kaiser, after it happened, the nurses would come to us and say, "Oh don't worry! Your mom will be fine!" And I would have to say, "I know...we're used to it."

    A lot of people have that reaction, I've certainly had it. It isn't just seeing blood per se, it's the whole context. A lot of people don't react like that unless they see it spurting, or the actual injury or knife or needle. It almost always is in a medical context...they won't react that way to a skinned knee or something. It's one of those freak medical things - the only phobia where people just pass out, without actual fear or panic or hyperventilation.


    I'm way not scared of needles or surgery (obviously) or whatever...it's the reaction that gets me. It's thought to be biological/evolutionary, not psychological/emotional. People don't faint at just seeing blood.

    Weirdly, it's only the skin incision that ever gets me - once the guts are out or whatever, I'm totally fine.

    That said, that book sounds pretty dumb-ass.

  5. Wow, that's fascinating. So she wouldn't faint changing a tampon or something, or fixing up your skinned knee, just in fairly specific contexts?

    See, I learn something new everyday! Thank you!

  6. I totally do that ---- the vasovagal response she's talking about! It has nothing to do with getting your period or scraping your knee. I always thought it was needle-related more than blood-related. Maybe it's a self-preservation thing against the fear of being violated? Like how oppossums play dead, or something?

  7. Oh, and by the early 90s, we already had gotten rid of any blood typing/blood-drawing exercises in high school. Though we did do tests with the litmus paper and with that chemical to see if you are a "supertaster" or not.

  8. There was a big deal about blood testing when my younger sisters were in high school (early 80's) that had more to do with possibly uncovering paternity issues, that lead to removal of this exercise in Bio classes. Like Sisyphus, I've done this before. Just recently I had a freakish fall at (of all places -one more reason to avoid) the mall. I understood why they were insistent on the CAT scan as I did hit ny head hard on concrete, but it was once I realized that I was bleeding and had broken teeth that I fainted. That caused the EMT's to do an EKG even though I told them I had a history with vagle syncope. Can't wait to see that bill, and while I can laugh about it now, it was pretty embarrassing. Regarding the book, though, it's crap and the phobia as used here just seems to add to the general crappiness & portrayal of females as helpless in these books. Amazing how many people have read this junky series and paid money to see the movies.

  9. Anonymous5:13 PM

    We do blood typing in my cc bio class and I am amazed that we get away with it. I just finished my first year here and I'm certain that the powers that be must have no idea what is going on or they would put a stop to it!

  10. Oh, oh! Regarding the vampires and menstruation, there's a comedic video you just HAVE TO SEE:

  11. Thanks, Janice. LOL, Vampax!