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Author Topic: The Gift That Keeps on Giving...
JamsessionVT
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No, this is not one of those natural male enhancement commercials.

I'm talking about donating blood.

I've run lots of blood drives, both in high school and college, not to mention given blood many times myself, and it is very much one of the most rewarding experiences, though not in the way many think. You don't get to put a face or a story to your donation, necessarily, but knowing that you could have saved a maximum of 3 lives with a pint of blood is a pretty awesome thing.

So, Scarleteeners, who here gives blood? Do you have a particular reason why, maybe a friend or family member who is ill or has needed blood before? Have you yourself needed a transfusion or a pint?

Donating blood is one of the most cost-effective gifts you can make. In the current economy, money isn't always easy to come by, and many charities are suffering because of decreasing donations. Not only will giving blood support a great cause, you know exactly what your donation goes towards:

Someone's life.

How 'bout it, guys?

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Abbie
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bluejumprope
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I love giving blood. I feel helpful, and there's actually something really reassuring to me about seeing that I have a bunch of blood.

I haven't done it in a while, so thanks for the reminder [Smile] . I just set up an appointment online in about twenty seconds: https://www.givelife.org/

It's so messed up though that gay men (and women who have sex with men who have had sex with men) still aren't allowed to give blood.

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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Heather
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I'm one of those people not allowed to, as well, though not for as stupid and biased a reason as homophobia. However, I also would be included in the group of women who have had sex with men who have had male partners. But I usually don't even get that far in the screening process.

I was in the UK for a bit in the early 90's during the Mad Cow outbreak, and while I was vegetarian at the time, so I wasn't at risk, it's still a box I have to check that makes me a no-go as a donor, unfortunately.

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Jill2000Plus
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Does that mean that I can't give blood? I've lived in the UK since birth apart from a couple of vacations that lasted one or two weeks after the age of 8 and I was born in 1989. Does the rule only apply if you are in the US and were in the UK then? I can't give blood anyway, because of the medication I take, but I would like to know.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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I don't know, Jill, because I've never donated blood in the UK. I'd be surprised, though, if it was the same standard in the UK given how many donors that would strike out.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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CJT
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I don't know about donating in the UK, but you can find the details about eligibility for donating in the US here: http://www.redcross.org/en/eligibility

I also fall into a category that doesn't allow me to ever donate again, though I used to donate before that applied. Now they have changed the rules about tattoos and piercing and they are more liberal (as more states regulate tattoo places, particularly) but I had trouble for a while because you'd have to wait a year after a tattoo (not the case now) and I'd pretty much be getting inked at least once a year [Smile]

It's really interesting to read about who can and can't donate. At least at my undergrad I know that there was a lot of political action around blood drives because of the homophobia associated with donation eligibility determination. In the past few years the Red Cross came out and suggested that perhaps the FDA might want to lift the lifetime ban on male donors who have had sex with another male (even once, since 1977), which was instated in 1983. The FDA chose to continue that ban.

An article that summarizes a bit about what happened in 2007 when the FDA decided to keep that ban in place can be found: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/71959.php

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CJT
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Some information about blood donation in the UK:

http://www.blood.co.uk/ (England and Wales)
http://www.scotblood.co.uk/ (Scotland)
http://www.ibts.ie/ (Ireland)

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atm1
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For a couple of years, I gave blood every eight weeks, but eventually I dropped under the weight requirement (I'm one of those people who has to work out a lot to maintain a higher weight). I did it because it was easy, didn't take much time, and helped other people.

I did, however, get pretty pissed off a bit ago, when someone asked me to sign up for the blood drive on my campus. I said "Nope" and their response was, "You better have a reason." I said "Yes, I do." Then came the question "Well, what is it?"
I kinda flipped out at the guy, saying it wasn't any of his business I currently weigh 103 pounds, just like it wouldn't be any of his business if I had AIDS, had malaria, had traveled to random places, or enjoyed group sex with a bunch of gay men. None of his business. And he said "Well, most people don't do it because of stupid reasons, and I want to make sure that everyone who can, does." At that point I left, pretty infuriated.

So, while I do believe it's good to donate, I do find people trying to invade others' medical history pretty offensive.

(sorry for the rant. It was an upsetting experience).

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StrangePudding
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I've never given blood because up until this year I've lived with my parents and my dad has always told me that, especially as a girl, I shouldn't. Because I bleed every month anyway and I need the iron. Ugh, what a load of bull.

I'm actually loathe to do it on my own because I have ridiculously hard to find veins. They usually have to try two or three places before they find one. I was in the hospital and they couldn't find a vein to put the IV in. And last time I had blood drawn at the doctor's office I almost fainted because they poked me too many times. So...doing it in the middle of a gym floor, having to sit there for ages, my veins probably being bitchy anyway...I'm honestly too scared [Frown] Wish I could

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CJT
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Rosaline, the thing I can say about the folks who take blood for blood drives is that they're the best sticks out there! Often times doctors/hospitals/lab techs have a hard time poking me for blood, as well, but I never once had a problem with anyone getting a vein when I went to donate. They have so much experience and can use really tiny needles.

So maybe if you are otherwise interested you could bring a buddy and give it a shot! I know the feeling of being nervous about whether it will be an easy stick but I had all good experiences on that front so it might not bad for you.

As for what your dad said....uh, yeah. Not really so true. They will make sure that you're not anemic before they let you donate so the whole "you're a girl and need iron" thing is really not so much a big factor unless you know that you have an issue with anemia (which does not necessarily have anything to do with your menstrual cycle).

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dancrgrl
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I usually give blood once a year, around this time of year. It just so happens that I'm usually sick for the winter blood drives at school. Even though I am extremely squeamish when it comes to blood and needles, giving blood makes me feel good because I know that I am saving lives--even though I pass out every time! But I just gave blood a few days ago, actually, and I brought my roommate along. It was her first time, and doing it together made us both feel a lot less nervous.

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"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing" -Helen Keller

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cool87
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I went to give blood for the first time about a month ago but alas weren't able to do so given my blood iron level was too low, below the requirement they ask for blood donation.

But I'll definatly try going again some other time.

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eryn_smiles
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I also gave blood for the first time 3 months ago [Smile] Prior to this I was anaemic and a little underweight. 1 year of iron supplements later, and I'm good to go.

I think blood is such an important gift. I've worked in one of the poorer pacific islands before. I remember that we couldn't offer our cancer patients blood unless one of their family members came and donated to replenish the supply in the blood bank. That's how short they were.

(It does seem overly cautious to me that all MSM and women who've slept with MSM cannot give blood. They do test all of our blood for HIV and hepatitis anyway. I guess it's mainly that 'window period' between actual infection and detection of HIV on a test that they're concerned about).

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

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sunshinevirus
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I've given blood a couple of times, but my iron level was too low the last time I went... [Frown]

Both my parents give blood, so I was brought up with it really. Went as soon as I was old enough. Oh, and I live in the UK, always have done (since I was born in 1990). That doesn't matter for giving blood here, but they do ask if you've had a transfusion before a certain date, nd that might be because that was before they started testing for BSE - I'm not sure.

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Capucine
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I like to give blood whenever I can, usually when they come to my campus. It only takes a bit of my time and who knows? I or someone I love might need a blood transfusion one day. My dad though, has been giving blood twice a year for 30 years, he's got me beat!

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Onionpie
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I wish I could give blood, but alas, I was born in the UK in 1991, so I can't. Which is a bitch because gosh darn it, I WANT to D:<

Actually, I was wondering -- does this mean I can NEVER donate blood here in canada?

Because I've heard that with BSE, symptoms don't begin to show until about 25 years later, but even then you can't be sure, so I get the feeling I could NEVER donate blood outside of britain. Does anyone know?

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mizchastain
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I miss being able to donate blood - I did once, but then I've been on and off mood meds for a few years and now I've been put on them long-term, so I can't give blood.

I did hear recently that the ban on men who've ever slept with men giving blood is being changed. They still have to wait a year after having slept with another man to give blood, which I'd say still rules out a lot of people, but it's a bit better than a lifetime ban, I think.

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Atonement
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My sister started a tradition about a year ago that whenever we visit each other, we donate.

So far, we've done it twice. I did it a couple times in high school, and about once a year when they have them at work.

The only problem I have is that there's this one blood center that absolutely harasses me. I have 3 phone numbers saved into my phone just so i can avoid them, but they keep using new ones, and it's gotten to the point where i don't even answer my phone for strange numbers because it's ALWAYS them. And when you do answer, they practically refuse to let you off the phone until you make an appointment. I know it's important, but i feel like they should be a little more considerate.

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mizchastain
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BTW, is anyone else on the bone-marrow donor's register? I signed up because I felt bad about not being able to give blood. I haven't been called up yet, and possibly never will, but my name's there if they need me.
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Kawani3792
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I, too, am unable to donate. I attempted to donate when there was a blood drive at my school, but when I said I'd been in Germany during this period of time, and they asked how long, I explained that I was living there for about 5 or 6 months, and was unborn for about 9 months prior to that-all of them spent in Germany. They asked if my mom is allowed to donate, and when I said that she can't, they said I can't either.
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Jill2000Plus
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I want to donate blood, but I would not think someone was bad because they didn't want to donate, I support the right to have an abortion regardless of how many people would go "that's a really selfish reason" (and I'd tell them to shut up too), so I don't believe it's right to dislike someone because they won't give blood, the only reasons I can think of that I would think was wrong is if they were opposed to blood donation because they believe anything along the lines of: blood/organ donation and/or science based medicine is wrong, if you get sick then you do not have the legal and/or moral right to medical treatment that is scientifically evidenced to work because if nature/god/fate/whatevs says you're going to die/be injured permanently, then that's that. The other reason is if they didn't want to donate in case their donation saved someone of a particular race/gender/sexual orientation/with a particular disability or lack thereof/income level/nationality. I would never force anyone to donate blood, but those reasons are ignorant.

But if their reason is "I don't like needles" then fine, it's their body. I don't think you should hug someone if they don't want you to hug them, so I sure as sugar don't think you should stick something sharp into someone if they don't want you to stick something sharp into them.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Something weird I think happens with blood donation and not being allowed to do it...

In the same way that Cancer or HIV are really taboo, more so than similar illnesses. I really get the sense that there's a bit more to giving blood than just giving blood? It feels kind of like a cultural ritual that validates you somehow... but it also somewhat judges you for being a type of person.

I really don't understand why the questions never ask how well you look after your sexual health... the questionnaire in the UK asked nothing about using barriers, or taking routine screenings. As if there's no research that's ever shown that people who don't use condoms with new sexual partners and never get tested are at higher risk of HIV.

But yeah, I can't give blood. It's not nice, not because I actually think I should or should not be allowed to donate, just because the whole rejection feels incredibly humiliating. I think that "It's science" is actually quite a good defence, but over all it's not the whole picture, I feel like there is a bigger cultural significance to blood donation and a satisfaction that gay people can't do it that really gets under my skin.

At least the reduction of the lifetime ban to a one year, is a step away from the initial CRAZY ban, than meant that plenty of healthy blood that would easily be filtered for HIV wasn't allowed simply because the person donating it had sexual contact with someone 30 years ago which became nothing but symbolic.

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Jill2000Plus
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Jacob: they didn't ask ANY questions about how well you take care of your sexual health? I suppose one could argue that they don't want to reject someone because of one broken condom, but I think that ties in with what you said about a certain cultural "satisfaction" that gay born homosapiens can't donate blood, it's like they're saying it doesn't matter how responsible you are about safer sex practices, if you're straight you are clean, and if you're gay/bi you're dirty, and a sort of homosexuality equals death mentality.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Saffron Raymie
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So, what you're saying, Jacob, is that you can be a perfect role model for safe sex, meaning never had sex without barriers, and yet - there's still a ban if you are gay?

Furthermore, they don't even ask about safe sex? Just ask if you are gay?

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Jill2000Plus
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I think they ask if you are a man who has had sex with another man? I may be mistaken but I'm pretty sure they can't refuse to let you donate blood just because you have feelings of sexual and/or romantic attraction towards other born homosapiens of the same sex/gender, regardless of what your sex/gender is?

I think we (as in society in general) need to try not to pin someone's worth on whether they donate blood, because if you do that, you are putting someone in a position where they either have to out themselves as gay/bi which can be very dangerous because someone may physically attack them (and there is the significant possibility of emotional distress), or they don't give you a reason and then you just assume that they are selfish and don't have a sense of community and blah blah blah. You get to walk away feeling superior when you have no reason to, they walk away crying inside and/or out.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Yeah Rae, no questions about safe sex. But they rather than ask if I was gay asked, on the questionnaire, if I'd ever had anal, oral, or (some other) sex with another man, yes or no. Which, to whatever minimal extent my experiences involve those experiences, sort of counted me out from giving blood.

(They also asked if I'd recently had a tattoo, piercing or visited a list of countries)

I kind of agree that we shouldn't pin any worth on people due to whether they donate blood... although I do think it's a good thing to do, if you can but I just don't feel that attitudes about blood donation are consistent in the actual institutions that ban donation.

The whole blood donation thing is just strangely biblical, the confession and then the giving of blood... it's supposed to be institutional and mechanical but at the same time I'm not surprised it becomes the site of sexual politics, the whole process seemed to me embedded in a whole set of principles, the assumptions about sexuality, all in the context of the national blood services recruitment advertising.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CsOxvy_IIo&feature=related

"Do an amazing thing, give blood" is supposed to just be a slogan, but I think it's just important for them to recognise that they do perpetuate a whole load of stuff and at the very least should have regret for not being "able" to take blood from everyone. It's supposed to be objective and scientific on the one hand, ie "there's no right to donate [so what are you complaining about]" and on the other hand they're more than comfortable putting adverts together with mystical narratives about bringing people back to life with choral music in the background.

Cold science is served up for even a symbolic brush with homosexuality while some sort of soul redemption is there for everyone else.

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Thehiddenone
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I would give blood, my iron is finially up enough! However, i am under the weight limit, by quite a lot actually, so i am not allowed to give blood. [Frown]
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crazyhorseperson
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I really really really want to donate blood. But even though I'm at a healthy BMI for my height, I'm under the minimum weight set by the American Red Cross, so I can't donate. :C
They should have a special thing where people under the weight who are at a normal BMI can donate perhaps half a bag of blood. Any amount helps, right?

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Redskies
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As this thread has come up again -

Confirming that from November 2011, the lifetime ban for donation on men who've ever had sex with another man was lifted in England, Wales and Scotland, and replaced with a one-year exclusion. There is a current, ongoing legal fight in Northern Ireland: the NI health minister keeps arguing for keeping the ban, and mostly the courts keep telling him that he legally can't, as NI is part of the UK.

The blood service does explain why it does not ask about safer sex practices. In theory, I agree that it's rubbish and daft when people who have been having unsafe sex would be ok to donate while some having safer sex would not, particularly given that we know that STI transmission is much more related to unsafe practices than the gender of partners. However... in practice, in the reality of the world we live in right now, I am without hesitation in agreement with the blood service and the choices they make with this.

The problem is sex education, or the lack of it. A blood service needs to be as sure as possible that blood isn't infected. If they start asking about safer sex practices, this opens the door to the problem of: does the person they are asking actually know how to use barriers properly, and how on earth can the blood service find that out? There is also much more of a self-reporting problem with barrier usage: people are unlikely to say that they haven't had a particular kind of sex in the last year if they actually have, but considerably more likely to say they Always used a condom when actually they didn't once or twice. That once or twice could make all the difference, and it would be taking chances with blood recipients' health and lives that are just not ok to take.

Yet another reason to support sex and barrier usage education: getting to a point where blood donation rules can be fair!

There's also something which sounds like a weird discrepancy but which makes sense practically. It's known that, in the UK, rates of HIV infection are higher among men who have sex with men than among other partner-choice demographics. Say there's a monogamous woman-man couple, and the man, years ago, had sex with another man. The man in that couple will be eligible to donate blood if it's more than a year since he had sex with another man. The woman will not be able to donate blood if she's had sex with her male partner in the last year. Sounds bizarre, right? But it's not. People are very unlikely to lie to the blood service about their sexual history: they can be pretty sure that the man really hasn't had sex recently with another man. But when the service is dealing with the woman, it's not her that they have to trust, it's the fact that the man has told her the truth (that he hasn't recently had sex with another man). That's not a gamble it's ok to take with other people's lives and health.

So, conclusion: the blood service is doing the best it can with the situation we all have. More sex education for all!

I am also amused at the total exclusion on anyone in the UK in the 80s/90s in other countries. It's like we're all doomed, or something [Smile] More seriously, it's fine - history has sadly shown that it's a terribly bad idea to accept donations when there's a potential issue before scientists know exactly what the what is with an illness.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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