I tried to donate blood today, and it went exactly as well as the last two times.

Last year, in the grand month of November, I was compelled (by guilt, I think) to donate blood even though I had missed the homecoming blood drive. I went to the Lincoln Community Blood Center on 13th Street. It was the first time I had ever donated blood, and I was nervous. Anyway, I got through all of the survey questions and pre-tests (Have you ever had Chagas disease? Do any of your family members have mad cow disease? Have you ever paid for sex? and so on. There’s also one thing where they put your blood in a solution to see if it’s dense enough to sink.). Anyway, I passed all of that, and I went over to a chair and got my blood drained. It went fairly well, and I was fine the next day and thought no more about it.

This year, in January or February, I returned to donate again (after the requisite 8 weeks) and to my surprise found that they hadn’t gotten the blood type from my previous donation for some reason. Annoyed by that, I was sort of dwelling on it as I was doing the pre-tests. For some reason, my heartbeat was too fast, at over 100 beats per minute. So I was deferred. Before I left, I asked what had happened to my previous donation. Apparently it had been destroyed in transition and instead of helping someone in need, it was presumably spilt in some white truck somewhere. Out of frustration, I called the next week and canceled my second appointment (you’re allowed to donate any time after a temporary deferral).

Because it had been nearly a year since the first time I had donated, I felt that I could forgive the system and went today to try again for homecoming. I was picky, though, and decided to donate to the American Red Cross instead of the Community Blood Bank. After I watched the US version of “The Office” in the waiting area (the UK version is much better), I went back to go through the pre-tests again, and again I found that my heart rate was much too fast (120 beats per second…my temperature was also 99.2 but apparently that doesn’t disqualify you) so I ended up deferred again with a preprinted letter in my hand. So tomorrow I’m making an appointment at the health center to diagnose this arrhythmia. News to follow, I suppose.

It just disappoints me sometimes, though. The time last year when I donated might be the only time I ever get to, if this is some chronic thing. And it just got destroyed and didn’t help anyone. So often the blood banks talk about how much they need blood and how it will help the theoretical sick and injured, but they somehow lost my sample. It’s only by the fluke that it was my first donation that I was even able to find out about it. Otherwise I’d have assumed I had helped someone.

Rather than treat my tissue with respect, they accidentally destroyed it. I’m not giving them much credit, but they don’t really deserve it. They ask people to make these donations in good faith, knowing that we genuinely want to help, but how many samples just get lost or destroyed? Why should that happen, even once?

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