For this post I am going to stray from my usual ramblings and tell you a story about a very good friend of mine. This is a story about an intelligent, hilarious, kind hearted, and responsible young man. This young man also happens to be gay. Now normally that would not be a focal point in describing all the shining attributes of this individual, but for the purpose of this story… it is.
When this young man was a student, Canadian Blood Services came to his high school and set up a blood drive. Interested in helping others, he decided he would sacrifice a small amount of his time and a tiny bit of pain to donate blood for the first time. Before he knew it he was donating blood every four months and was proud to be doing so. As he put it, “giving blood gives you the extraordinary opportunity to save a life and it’s so easy, why wouldn’t you do it?!”
After being a faithful donor for a few years, he took a bit of a hiatus. University classes and extra curricular activities had taken over his free time but eventually he realized that he hadn’t donated blood in awhile. Excited at the prospect of helping others once again, he booked an appointment to get back into his blood giving groove. During his hiatus however, he had experienced a year of immense personal growth: he came out and began having sexual relationships with men.
Not realizing that homosexual males are not allowed to give blood, my friend arrived at his appointment and filled out the same questionnaire he had filled out countless times before. Only this time, there was one major difference, he answered yes to the question regarding sexual relationships with other men. As the nurse reviewed his form, she stopped him. She respectfully explained that because of this change on his form he was no longer eligible to give blood. With his face red hot with embarrassment and his eyes stinging with disapointment, he left the clinic and returned home.
Four months later he received a phone call. That phone call was from Canadian Blood Services. The same people who had turned him away mere months before, the same people who had stamped his profile ineligible had the audacity to call him and request that he help them out and donate blood. Surely this must be a joke! Furious my friend immediately hung up the phone and thought that he would not hear from them ever again.
He thought wrong. A few months later he received another phone call, and then another, and then another after that! When he described to me how these calls made him feel he said, “they make me feel like I am less of a human than everyone else that donates blood. I don’t understand how they can continually call me when they are the very people who told me I can’t donate in the first place, it’s ridiculous.”
I think it is pretty apparent that Canadian Blood Services needs to update how they keep their records so that when they do their calls to past donors they DO NOT call people they have turned away. These people are on their list because they have donated blood and they probably still want to donate blood, calling them is like rubbing salt in the wound.
And on a final note: I do not claim to know anything about testing blood or the statistics of diseases in blood coming from straight or heterosexual individuals but one last thing that my friend said to me remains burned in my memory… He said, “I have been in a committed relationship for almost one year and before my boyfriend and I became sexually active with each other, we BOTH got tested for STIs. How many heterosexual people can you say that about?”
Just a little something to think about.