In the UK, you don't get paid to donate blood. This means that everyone who donates is not only giving up their precious and much needed blood, but they are also willingly donating their time. This is probably a legacy of coming from a medical family, but I think it is a fantastic thing to do and I have happily been submitting myself to the National Blood Service's needles since I was eighteen years old. That means that - barring the mandatory break of a year after I got my tattoo - I have been giving blood for 14 years.
My blood type is A Rh+. This is good for two reasons:
1) It is the second most common blood type (after O+) and occurs in 35% of the population. This means that it is always in demand and that it is especially important to donate regularly. This makes me feel good about donating it: I know it's not likely to be hanging around for long or to ultimately go to waste. Apparently about half of the people needing blood at any one time need this type....
2) The fact that it is so common means that if I unlucky enough to need a donation, then hopefully it shouldn't be too hard to find someone with the same blood type (and yes, I do realise that the two points are slightly paradoxical!)
The whole donation process takes about 30 minutes, and because they bring their van to my office, it provides a welcome opportunity to escape from my desk three times a year and have a sit down and a nice cup of tea. Oh, and to donate a pint or so of something that costs me nothing and might just be useful to someone else.
I've just got a letter through the post that's put a stop to all that:
"Unfortunately, according to our rather strict criteria, you are not eligible to donate blood. I have therefore withdrawn your name from our panel of donors. If your situation changes, please contact us again and we may be able to reinstate you.....etc."
I reported the WTs to them about a year ago, and because they are quite rightly cautious about the blood that they take from people, they put me on hold whilst they investigated what to do with me.... and now I know. I have a neurological disorder of some kind that remains essentially undiagnosed. You wouldn't have thought that this would affect my blood, but you really can't be too careful can you?
So that's that.
I know that it probably shouldn't, but this makes me feel a bit shitty: one more little way in which this thing has affected my life.
Curse you WTs!