Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Blood Donation – A Sexual Minefield

Poor Doc! He went to give blood and got the third degree about his sexual life. If the Red Cross is going torely on people being truthful about their sexual escapdes, try very hard not need blood, ever! Pssst, Doc, watch out for the Bouncing Betties, they can ruin your whole day! - Sailor

Blood Donation – A Sexual Minefield
Written by Doc Farmer
Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Author's Note: This article deals with actual questions asked by the American Red Cross to blood donors. If you think you're embarrassed reading these questions, just think about how you'd feel actually answering them....

I know I lived outside the US for a while, but things have changed a lot more than I ever expected them to. The media's more left-leaning,
the Congress is redundant (thanks to SCOTUS), the taxes are higher and McDonalds still doesn't make enough McRib sandwiches. I've found that corporations are so anal-retentive, so afraid of offending anybody that you really can't say, do, or even think anything without the threat of unemployment and/or lawsuits. I've found that you can get food that is sugar free, fat free, carb free, protein free, wheat free, gluten free, etc., but never actually free (as my grocery bill will attest).

Some things are still the same. Most of the people in Congress are the same jerks who were there when I left America all those years ago. Teddy the Hutt is still fat, drunk, irrelevant, and disgustingly lib/dem/soc/commie-fied. Republican leaders are still spineless. Washington, D.C. is still a sinkhole for everybody's money. And Ted Koppel still has that hairdo that looks like a cross between Big Boy and a
Chernobyl survivor.

When I first came back, I was almost overwhelmed by all the changes. Hablamos Español is almost the preferred language these days. When I left America, we spoke American. Burger joints used to sell burgers, fries, shakes and Cokes. Now they sell salads, tofu, and bottled water, screwing up my artery-hardening program something awful. Tellers at banks used to handle money. Now, they can barely add and subtract, leaving the tedium of money-handling to machines. Beer didn't have warning labels.

However, the one thing that is still the same is those Red Cross blood drives. About once a month, the local radio station will say that they're running ''dangerously low'' on blood supplies, and they ask for folks to come on down and open up a vein. On the plus side, after dropping off a pint of red, you do get a cookie. Since I'm trying to diet, I skip the cookie myself, but I do dip into the orange juice (Mea Culpa, Mea
Culpa, Mea Calorie Culpa).

Well, there was a blood drive here in town at a local grocery store. I had just gotten off work, and really had no pressing plans, so I figured, ''Hey, why not have somebody jab me in the arm and dig around for a vein for 5 minutes''? It sorta breaks up the day.

Have you given blood lately? In the last few years, I mean? Heck, even since the first of the year? Well, if you go now, you're in for one hell of a surprise.

They took my pulse, blood pressure, and stuck my finger with what appeared to be a samurai sword to check out my iron content. They asked my name, social security number, address, any known aliases, shoe size, etc. That was fine. Annoying, but fine. I understand the need to accurately identify who is donating (if for no other reason than to ensure folks don't donate too often, and screw up their health).

Nevertheless, when the lady at the bloodmobile started asking me the long list of questions on her
form, I was totally flummoxed. It read less like a medical statement and more like an application for a job in a porno movie! Sure, they asked the ''Are you feeling healthy and well today'' and the ''Are you taking any medications'' questions, and I'm fine with that. I think, however, that our paranoia as regards the blood supply is getting to be a bit much.

What follows are ACTUAL QUESTIONS that I was asked by a lady I didn't know. The answers in italic are the ones I thought, but didn't necessarily say....

In the past 12 months, have you had sexual contact with anyone who has HIV/AIDS or has had a positive test for the HIV/AIDS virus? To simplify things, the answer is no to any question with the first 12 words of that sentence. Damn it!

In the past 12 months, have you had sexual contact with a
prostitute or anyone else who takes money or drugs or other payment for sex? Not being married anymore, the answer to that one is no (''other payment'' usually involved having to mow the lawn).

In the past 12 months, have you had sexual contact with anyone who has ever used needles to take drugs or steroids, or anything not prescribed by their doctor? Well, unless I was unconscious and boned one night by the Governator, I'd say that's a no.

In the past 12 months, have you had sexual contact with anyone who has hemophilia or has used clotting factor concentrates? No, but I had a glass of orange juice made from concentrates. Does that count?

In the past 12 months, have you had sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis? What, you mean she [i]wasn't a performance
artist imitating an egg yolk?[/i]

In the past 12 months, have you had or been treated for syphilis or gonorrhea? Are you kidding? I haven't even had the CHANCE to catch it, let alone be treated for it!

In the past 12 months, have you been in juvenile detention, lockup, jail, or prison for more than 72 hours? No, but you've just given me a very good reason to never be arrested. After 3 days, you apparently become infected with a deadly disease? Yipes!

From 1977 to the present, have you received money, drugs or other payment for sex? Why? How much are you willing to pay?

From 1977 to the present, if you are male, have you ever had sexual contact with another male, even once? Does the fact that I'm barfing on my shoes right now
answer your question?

Have you EVER (their emphasis, not mine) had a positive test for the HIV/AIDS virus? No. And by the way, aren't they two separate diseases? Shouldn't you ask one question for HIV and another for AIDS? Just to fill up the page more, I mean.

Have you EVER had sexual contact with anyone who was born in or lived in Africa. Geez, that sure must cut down the donation list, doesn't it?

Have you EVER been to Africa? No, but I'm sure the Nairobi Tourist Board must just LOOOOVE you for asking.

There were other questions that were totally understandable (Have you EVER had hepatitis? Have you EVER had malaria?) and some that were totally incomprehensible (Have you EVER had babesiosis? For that matter, what the $^#% is babesoisis? Is that some kind of Baywatch disease or something?).

I was actually deferred from donating blood, not because I answered any of the questions wrong, but because my pulse rate was too high by about 6 beats per minute. Probably from having to answer all those embarrassing and personal questions. Either that, or the cup of REAL coffee I had this morning instead of decaf (sorry, my bad). The folks in the bloodmobile said I could come back any other day and donate, so long as my pulse rate was down to an acceptable level.

After running a gauntlet of questions like that, though, I am coming to understand more and more why the Red Cross is running into blood shortages. After their financial sleight of hand following 9/11, I definitely don't give money to the Red Cross anymore. However, I figured that giving blood was still a way to help out in my
community. Now, I'm not so sure that it's worth it.

Nobody wants to be embarrassed like that while trying to perform an act of charity. Since I've got a somewhat rare blood type (and no, to all my fellow Star Trek fans, it's NOT green!), I suppose I'll have to put up with it. Nevertheless, it would seem more sensible for the Red Cross to do the biochemical screening of the blood itself, instead of asking questions that people could, quite frankly, lie about.

About the Writer: Doc Farmer is a writer and humorist who is also a moderator on ChronWatch's Forum. He formerly lived in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but now resides in the Midwest. Doc receives e-mail at

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