I’m so frustrated right now. I’ve been trying to donate blood for 10 years but have been refused every time. When I was younger it was usually because I had a recent piercing or tattoo. Fair enough, the needles do come with a risk of infection, especially with some of the dodgy parlours around. Since my early twenties it is a whole different reason though, and one that I can’t really comprehend. In the UK there are stringent guidelines as to who can give blood and who cannot. I have always been lumped in the latter group as I have committed the ultimate sin – I’ve done it with a South African. Basically, in the UK you cannot donate if you have had sex with a Saffer in the last 2 years. You know, because all South African’s have HIV and AIDS. Also, if you haven’t had sex with them in the last 2 years then the disease that you definitely caught from them must have magically cleared up.
I was married to a South African. I remember as clear as day how disgusted the African nurse was when she was filling out my sexual health questionnaire and was ticking no to all of the questions that I answered, almost skipping over them without waiting for my negative response (because I look like such an angel obviously). She went to skip over “Ever had sexual intercourse with someone from Africa?” “My fiancé is South African” “What?!?” <a look of clear disgust on her face> “When was his last AIDS test?” Er, none of your business lady. We are talking about my sexual history not his.
And so it went on. I waited patiently for 2 years after I split up with my ex, and then Rob and I went to the blood bank to donate. Easy right? Wrong. I couldn’t donate as I had a cold, and Rob couldn’t donate as my ex was South African. WTF?!?!
Since we have been in SA there has been a huge drive for blood donation here – the picture above is taken from the SANBS website – I kinda like it! SA is running seriously low on blood stocks. I really do urge all of you South African’s to do the right thing and donate ASAP if you are healthy enough to do so. Not you expat’s though. Oh no. My trip today was as follows:
“Hi, I’d like to see if I can donate blood. I’m British but I’ll be here for a few years” “Yes, that’s fine. I’ll get the nurse to take your history” “Great. I did wonder if I would be allowed as I wasn’t allowed to donate in the UK due to my partner being South African” “Well we do not discriminate here, as long as you are healthy. This is the nurse that will take your history” “Hello. You have an accent” “Yes, I’m from the UK” “Where?” “London” “What do you want?” “Well, I’m here for a couple of years and would really like to donate blood throughout my stay” “No” “Huh?” “No” “What do you mean no? Why not?” “We do not accept foreign blood as if something happens we will not be able to trace you. How will we find you in London?” <starts laughing hysterically as if I’m an idiot> “Come back when you get permanent residency” “That would be in 5 years time then if we decide to stay” “See you in 5 years then”
Seriously dudes. How hard can this be?! I just want to donate some of my freaking blood. I’m fit and healthy and have the medical records to prove it. I had to undergo all manner of x-rays, blood tests and sexual infection screening to get my visa to stay here.
Please can you all donate for me instead?!?! In the UK it is through http://blood.co.uk/ and in SA it is http://www.sanbs.org.za/. Not to be confused with the facebook group “Students Against Nasty Butt Cleavage” which is what I first found when I googled. For any other countries, please google blood donation and your local service will come up.
I just read on the UK site, that only 4% of people donate blood in the UK, meaning 96% of the population rely on these stocks to save their life should they ever find themselves in any kind of medical situation where they need blood. I really find that figure quite astounding. Get donating people!
And no, the irony that I was married to a South African but moved to SA with a Brit is not wasted on me. It’s just the way the cookie crumbled.
**edited to say that after Rob read this post he emailed me to say that his company do blood drives through SANBS and he had asked if he could donate. They initially said no to the untraceable foreign blood, but then when he said that he was here for 2 years they said that we can donate and to come down next blood drive. Of course, we will get there and be turned away……**