I did it for the bikkies

I gave blood today and I’m feeling a little disconnected.

The latest requirement of the NZ Blood Service is that donors provide some form of ID. I’m not sure why this is. It seems like it’s to prevent someone giving blood in someone else’s name, but who would do that and why?

If someone who, say, had type O- blood, low iron, was HIV positive, and had hepatitis B found my donor card and tried to donate under my name, well, that stuff would get picked up in testing.

Or are there people who are really into giving blood so much that they attempt to give blood more than the recommended four times a year? Are there chocoholics who really really want their free orange cordial and chocolate bikkies?

I hadn’t brought any ID along with me, but showing my donor card and knowing my full name and date of birth was enough for them to allow me the privilege of having half a litre syphoned out of my arm.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the hassle, then I remember that most of the process is just lying in a chair for about 10 minutes, which is a welcome break in my working day, and indeed there are people out there with blood disorders or accident victims who are experiencing greater hassles than moi.

Veinity

The blood donation squad were at work today. Apparently none of the other captioneurs and captioneusses had donated, so I thought I’d better get along there and squeeze out a few drops to help the sick kiddies, or whoever.

The squad had set up their tables and stuff in the marae. I’d never been in there before and was expecting, well, a marae, but it was just another ordinary office room. Not a woven panel or picture of someone’s great uncle to be seen.

A nurse took a pinprick of blood to check my iron level was ok, and indeed it was, so I got up on the deck chair while the technician dude got to work finding a vein.

My veins are notoriously hard to find. The last time I tried to give blood they couldn’t get the needle in a vein, so I had to leave without having done my bit to help the children. But this time the fellow managed to get the needle in and soon the thick plastic tube was filled with my warm dark blood.

He didn’t speak very good English, and what he said was heavily accented, so he’d tell me to do something, like to squeeze the plastic ball, and I wouldn’t really understand him. But, uh, it added to the fun of the experience.

On another deck chair another donor wasn’t having a good time. She had a wet cloth on her forehead, one person was holding a fan near her face and another was holding a plastic bucket under her chin as a potential vomit catcher. But the needle was still in her arm. She was still donating. She was still making life good for someone.

I remembered how on The Insiders Guide to Happiness that Matthew had been feeling a bit down and so gave blood which then ended up being given to Tina when she needed a transfusion. I briefly wondered if a similar thing would happen to me, but there was no Golden Egg/Lotto ticket parallel, so probably not.

The slow flow alarm sounded a few times, and the technician told me in his special English to pump the plastic ball. I pumped. I flowed. Soon enough the bag was filled with 475 ml of my blood.

I wanted a sticker, one of those ones that said “Be nice to me. I gave blood today” but they were no where to be seen. There was, however, the recovery table, well stocked with tea, coffee, Milo and a selection of fancy biscuits. They were all chocolate ones or creme-filled ones. Not a wine or nice biscuit in sight.

I made a Milo, sat down and began the recovery process. Then a nurse declared that the bickie box wasn’t full enough and tipped a packed of Chit Chats into it. Even though Chit Chats are a poor man’s Tim Tams, I felt the call of biscuits that were both chocolate and creme and continued, er, recovering from the arduous task of sitting in a chair and having a couple of cups of blood drained out of me.

With the recovery complete, I made my way back to my desk, happy in the knowledge that I’d done my bit for the children.