Wednesday, July 01, 2009

a plea for help

Our summer foodie conversation will continue shortly, but first I need to blog about what happened yesterday.

I don't think I've blogged about it before, but I have always been a very avid blood donor. Following in my parents' footsteps, I donated for the first time within a week of my 16th birthday and donated all the way through college. In Greenville, I was on the call list, and the need was so great that they called me every nine weeks without fail.

When I moved to France, I was delighted to see that there are the equivalent of blood mobiles passing through Tiny Town every couple of months. I was far too intimidated to go on my own for a long time, though, afraid of not being able to understand enough or make myself understood.

The last time I donated was almost three years ago when I was back in North Carolina, at our family's church. It was then that I found out that I would no longer be eligible to donate in the States, as anyone that has spent over three years overseas is automatically denied. (Yes, that includes military personnel and their families living overseas as well!)

This year, I finally had the courage to go check out the French guidelines for myself. The first time was a few months ago, and looking over the questionnaire I realized I was ineligible, since it had been less than six months since Fry was born. No worries, I thought, I'll go next time.

Yesterday was next time. After the grocery, I packed Fry up in his stroller and we headed over to the salle des fêtes, where the donation area is set up. I cleared the first hurdle, getting my name and info in the system, and was relieved to learn that simply being American wouldn't disqualify me.

Unfortunately, the chat with the doctor was very short. Since I received a transfusion after Fry was born, I am no longer allowed to donate blood in France, either. I was devastated. I managed to get out of the salle with my head up, but I practically cried all the way home.

I estimate that I have donated over three gallons of blood in my life, but now I am forced to pass the baton. So many people brush off donating blood because they "don't have the time," or they think it will hurt or they think they may not qualify. The truth is, donating blood only takes maybe an hour out of your day, it doesn't hurt any more than drawing blood for a test, plus you get to rest and indulge in your favorite sweets after! Best of all, you get a sticker when you leave so everyone can see you for the hero you are.

Seriously, it is so important and who knows if you will ever have an accident and need it? Think of it as karma insurance! I am so grateful to the person that donated the blood I got when I needed it, and am glad that I at least donated when I was able. Of course, not every one can donate, like me, but there are so many people that are eligible that just don't. If you're in America, you can check the guidelines here and the guidelines for France are here.

As an aside, I am insanely proud of my sister, who, after a lifetime aversion to needles (for good reason), has started donating regularly. If she can do it, so can you!!!


Antipo Déesse said...

You are SUCH a hero! I applaud you Darlin'!

JChevais said...

I keep meaning to donate blood and then I miss all the vampire wagons when they're set up in town.

OK. Next time. I'm really going to do it.

JChevais said...

Wait. My happy pills wouldn't exclude me, would they?

Vivi said...

J, I'm not sure, I know they ask for what medications you take but I don't know if that would disqualify you. Check out that link and if it doesn't say there I reckon the only way to find out is by trying!

Andie said...

I really envy those who donate blood, but I CAN'T! Nothing physical, but psychological. Just can't do it. I had to use EMLA patches to get my blood drawn during pregnancy. On the day I forgot, when they did that really big blood test at the beginning, I fainted. I even fainted when I did have an EMLA patch but they had to draw twice for the diabetes test. My MIL had to hold me down to give me a flu shot a couple years ago. In HS to try and get over my aversion to needles, I tried to donate blood and it was the worst experience of my life, even worse than giving birth without an epidural. (Oddly, the epidural passed without faintage). I am O negative which I think could help a lot of people, but I just can't do it. E does it regularly when they come to his school, so I guess that makes up for it some.

Mickle in NZ said...

You have my complete understanding, Back whenI was a young thing the blood service here wouldn't take mine because I was below their weight requirement.

Now I weigh more than enough, but even if they could ignore ( and sensibly don't) my health hiccups, blood transfusions and autoimmune-suppressant medications , I can't because I spent more than 6 months in the UK back in the 1980s.

Therefore I have potentially eaten "mad cow" beef.

I value the safety measures taken, and value even more your Sister's brave move.

Anonymous said...

Hi I have been meaning to find out about blood donation in France and came upon your blog during my search. Having been a donor for many years (and being a rare blood group) I am gutted to find out that I too cannot donate here as I have been resident in the UK for more than 12 months between 1980 and 1996 and could, "thoretically", pass on Mad Cow disease!