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Confessions of a bleeding-heart moderate

I'm not one for jewelry, but I do have a single pin I wear on occasion. It's the most expensive item I've ever gotten, and I paid dearly for it. But it didn't cost me a cent.

It's a pin from the American Red Cross. I got it when I had donated my sixth gallon of blood.

I've never given one red cent to the Red Cross; I have some serious issues with them. For one, they have not pushed the International Red Cross to recognize the Israeli Red Cross, the Magen David Adom. For another, they've wasted too much cash and made too many political mis-steps to suit me. But I've always been proud of my donations of blood (O+, a very popular type).

That being said, I noticed this story about a UNH student leader trying to prevent the Red Cross from coming on campus for blood drives. According to Nicholas Christiansen, he objects to the Red Cross refusing donations from sexually active gay men.

Apparently the Red Cross has been listening to Harvard president Lawrence Summers, and letting reality sway its decisions. The biggest danger in blood transfusions is blood-borne diseases. Gay men have the highest rate of those diseases, well above the statistics for other groups. And while the Red Cross does test and screen donations, but 1) it's expensive, and 2) no tests are perfect.

Young Mr. Christiansen is certainly free to make as many political statements he wants. But he has no right to endanger the lives of blood recipients. And when the facts change, he's welcome.to argue for the Red Cross to change their rules. But I hope to hell the UNH Student Senate tells him to get stuffed.



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Comments (38)

Well-put and I agree. My b... (Below threshold)
Dan Patterson:

Well-put and I agree. My blood donation is one thing because it goes directly to a needy person without anything being taken 'off the top'--unless there is a black market for blood that I don't know about...

The issue is not the gay man's preference for other gay men, but his blood and it's potential for lethal ingredients. What would happen if a donor's blood was contaminated with bacteria? It wouldn't matter where the blood was sourced, it would only matter that the donation was not usable. Why take a chance on a high-risk donor of any persuasion. PC has GOT TO GO!!


I give up, I sometimes can ... (Below threshold)
Eneils Bailey:

I give up, I sometimes can not understand the logic of the far left groups. I would not be able to understand this twisted logic if you had three apes with sledgehammers, a metallurgist, and the jaws of life to untangle it.

I wonder how many sexually ... (Below threshold)

I wonder how many sexually active gay men would want a blood transfusion from another sexually active gay man?

Easy solution. Accept a pin... (Below threshold)

Easy solution. Accept a pint from anybody, but chunk pints from sexually active gay men and other high-risk donors right into the incinerator.

Yes, it would be a huge waste of time and resources. But no price is too high to pay to pay empty lip service to everybody's civil rights, right? Right?


First, thank you for giving... (Below threshold)

First, thank you for giving. As a one time receipiant of 6 units of blood, over the space of a month or so, it helped save my life.

Second, Thank you for giving, when I know that I can not. I have other health problems in my history that prevent it, including the blood based cancer I survived that I needed the blood for. A family history of diabetis covers most of it.

Third. For ANYONE to be so stupid as to argue this point from the other side boggles the mind. This is part of the general health questionairre that ALL applicants go thru. I know enough that it weeds me out based upon things like diabetis, cancer, high blood pressure and such. Why can't this idiot understand this simple principal?

I used to work at a plasma ... (Below threshold)

I used to work at a plasma donation center, which is governed by the same rules as a blood bank. This is not a decision made by the ARC it was made by the FDA in the 80's. Prior to that gay men were some of the most active blood donors so I am sure the ARC would love to have them back.

This is yet another facet o... (Below threshold)

This is yet another facet of the gays strange obsession with AIDS, treating this illness as some sort of badge of honor or civil right, instead of the devestating disease it is.

And they wonder why the "super AIDS" virus comes about....

Actually, Jeff, I believe t... (Below threshold)

Actually, Jeff, I believe that does happen. I know that each time I've given blood, you're given a choice between two barcode stickers, one which means DO NOT USE MY BLOOD and the other indicating that it should be okay (after all the screening they do). I assume that the DO NOT USE units are incinerated.

I understand why they do this -- it's because many of the blood drives are at workplaces, and there's peer pressure to go, and you don't want to have yourself outed as having various blood-borne diseases. My husband is anemic, and people at work always gave him grief over not donating though he =can't=. He'd be deferred every time for having iron levels too low. At least he could point to that. Suppose you've had hepatitis or are HIV+... do you want to be explaining that to your co-workers?

There's a danger that blood collected will still get used, of course.

I can understand that, meep... (Below threshold)

I can understand that, meep. It is a shame that you just can't say I have a medical condition that prevents me from doing so. And, if your co-worker asks why, tell him it's none of their business.

It's amazing if you think a... (Below threshold)

It's amazing if you think about it, the same group that is wanting to force blood banks to accept from sexually active gay men want Jeff Gannon barred from reporting from the White House, because he's gay.

a fool is a fool is a fool<... (Below threshold)

a fool is a fool is a fool

One only needs look at the ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

One only needs look at the stats to realize these policies keep the blood supply safer.

Also gay men aren't the only people prohibited. If you have un protected sex, are an intravenous drug user, or if you have traveled to certain countries you are also prohibited from donating blood.

The policy isn't because the Red Cross wants to discriminate, but because they want to keep the blood supply safe.

Only Six gallons?G... (Below threshold)

Only Six gallons?

Geeze. I've actually lost count.....

Here's the list of all the ... (Below threshold)

Here's the list of all the reasons they automatically ban you from giving blood. Looks like a lot of people are being discriminated against.

anyone who has ever used intravenous drugs (illegal IV drugs)

men who have had sexual contact with other men since 1977

anyone who has ever received clotting factor concentrates

anyone with a positive antibody test for HIV (AIDS virus)

men and women who have engaged in sex for money or drugs since 1977

anyone who has had hepatitis since his or her eleventh birthday

anyone who has had babesiosis (tick-borne malaria like illness or Chagas (parasitic infection) disease

anyone who has taken Tegison for psoriasis, removed from approved drug lists in the US because of reports of severe birth defects

anyone who has risk factors for Crueutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or who has an immediate family member with CJD

anyone who has risk factors for vCJD

anyone who spent three months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980 through 1996

anyone who has been to Europe from 1980 to the present.If you have been to Europe from 1980 to the present, you are ineligible to donate blood through 17 May 2004. After 17 May, you will be able to donate blood as long as you were not in UK for more than 3 months, or 6 months in Eastern / Western Europe between the 1980 to present timeframe.


So you can even banned if a member of your immediate family has certain diseases, as far as I can see he has nothnig to complain about.

Oh, great, so the the Rethu... (Below threshold)

Oh, great, so the the Rethuglicans all want to discriminate against HIV positive people at blood banks, too?

/liberal shrieking

meep-"I know that ea... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"I know that each time I've given blood, you're given a choice between two barcode stickers, one which means DO NOT USE MY BLOOD and the other indicating that it should be okay (after all the screening they do). I assume that the DO NOT USE units are incinerated."

WTF are you talking about? That cannot be true.
What is the point of donating blood and then saying 'Um, just throw that away, thanks.' If that is true, then nobody should donate money ever again to the RC; they obviously must have money to burn, literally.

"It is a shame that you just can't say I have a medical condition that prevents me from doing so."

Um, who says you can't say 'I have a medical condition...'? Was there a law passed that we don't know about concerning this? What is stopping anybody from saying exactly that?

Sorry if I sound a bit cross today, but c'mon now people! If you don't want to give, say this: 'no'. It's not rocket science, it's just a simple 'no'.

Am I missing something here?

"What is the point of donat... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"What is the point of donating blood and then saying 'Um, just throw that away, thanks.' If that is true, then nobody should donate money ever again to the RC; they obviously must have money to burn, literally."

Possibly to save you embarrassment.

Also, some banks still pay recipients, and some offer things in exchange, every time we have taken our son to Boston Children's you get free parking, if you donate blood, and we have taken advantage of this multiple times. So maybe by donating, but checking the box you are able to still get either money, or the other benefits such as free parking.

After I RTFA (read the frig... (Below threshold)

After I RTFA (read the friggin' article), it is even more inane than you suggest, Jay. He admits he knows the Red Cross is only following the FDA rules for blood product donation, but wants to ban them ("well, at least not right away") "because they support" the FDA rules. Basically he's grandstanding to try to make his misguided point and placing a donor program hostage. He's a gay terrorist!

With blood bank resources usually quite strained, his actions could literally affect the health of a number of individuals who depend upon banked blood. I wonder if these actions could be seen as interfering with folks "right" to donate blood and others "right" to pursue life (versus disease and death). Where are all the lefties who usually support these kind of "rights"?

It would be interesting to see if there are some legal issues: there is Federal money supporting the University and it begins trying to interfere with Federal Regulations rather than just debate them.

Les: Do I really have to ex... (Below threshold)

Les: Do I really have to explain to you how obnoxious, pushy, and stab in the back coworkers and supervisors can get? If I do, let me know where you work so I can apply. Sometimes the path of least resistance is the one best taken.

"Possibly to save you embar... (Below threshold)
Les 'slow-on-the-uptake' Nessman:

"Possibly to save you embarrassment."

To save WHO from embarrasment? Embarrasment from what, exactly?

"..but checking the box you are able to still get either money, or the other benefits such as free parking."
Oh, good. So it's a mechanism for fraud and theft.
And the RC is okay with this deception? Do they know about these 'do not use' stickers, or is that only at certain donation centers?

I apologize for being so thick today, but I still don't get it.

julie-"Do I really h... (Below threshold)
Les 'wtf' Nessman:

"Do I really have to explain to you how obnoxious, pushy, and stab in the back coworkers and supervisors can get?...Sometimes the path of least resistance is the one best taken."

And you let SOMEONE ELSE bully you into undergoing a (albeit small) medical procedure?

Am I in a Twilight Zone episode here?

Your blood may be healthy, but you need to fortify your spinal column.;)

Les -- many blood drives ar... (Below threshold)

Les -- many blood drives are done at workplaces. AND at some workplaces, there's a great deal of pressure for everyone to donate blood (ever been caught in the middle of a rabid United Way drive at work? Or having to pitch in for a gift for co-workers for every little thing?)

So the embarrassment being prevented here is not having to admit to being in one of these forbidden groups. The Red Cross (and other blood banks) try to offer every possible discreet out in the process. They are a very practical group, and I'm sure they understand how peer pressure comes to bear in these things (esp. as they're the benificiary of such pressure. Most of the people in the workplace won't be HIV+ or have had hepatitis. So most of the units they collect will be usable.)

My favorite screening quest... (Below threshold)
Mark Flacy:

My favorite screening question from the last time that I gave blood:

"Have you been in jail for more than 72 hours?"

I guess that's as long as you've got before the booty bandits come pay you a visit...

I'm not sure what country e... (Below threshold)
Les 'WhatWouldGeoWashingtonSay' Nessman:

I'm not sure what country everyone is posting from, but here in the United States of America, we have freedom of choice over our own bodies. So much so that half our body politic goes apeshit wild if there is even a hint of a debate about merely informing a 14-year old girls parents that she may have an abortion.

Our forefathers fought and died for our freedoms and you mean to tell me that some people are too weak-kneed to say 'Yes, I will donate' or 'No thank you, not this time'? (How's that for some hyperbolic b.s., huh?;) But with a large grain of truth.)

Oh, get off your unearned h... (Below threshold)

Oh, get off your unearned high horse, Les. The fact that you want to equate some people's desire or need for medical privacy with the lost of the rights our forefathers fought and died for or a lack of a spinal column is just pure assholery.

I didn't mean to rattle you... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

I didn't mean to rattle you so much, 'julie'.

However, I'll leave it up to the rest of you. Other than meep and julie, does anyone else find it strange that a person will let co-workers bully them into giving their own blood?

If it's already been posted and I'm just too daft to get it, so be it.

But does ANYONE else see my point?

btw julie, when I admit in the post to 'hyperbolic b.s.' and put a bunch of ' ;) ' sarcastic smiley faces in my posts, it should be clear that I'm tweaking you somewhat, not slamming you.

Les it isn't so much bullyi... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Les it isn't so much bullying as it is not wanting to make an issue of it. Basically, if you have a medical condition, making an issue of not donating will affect your right to privacy as much as donating and checking the "don't use my blood" box.

Also, Sororities/Fraternities and other college organizations often have blood drive contests-the group that has the most people donate wins, that is another example.

At this point Les you are either dense or being deliberately obtuse.

They also don't let men don... (Below threshold)

They also don't let men donate who take Rogain. Oh the humanity.

I have to confess that I st... (Below threshold)

I have to confess that I started donating blood because it could get me out of work for an hour plus the girls in the blood mobile were generally attractive and fun to talk with.

Because I have O neg (universal donor) with some other factor that makes my blood preffered/used by infants I started donating outside of work. I get called every two months by the community blood services of Florida. Now it makes me feel good and the women are decent looking and fun to talk with.

I have plenty of male friends who simply don't like needles and state this as their reason not to give. Whatever, it's a personal choice and I respect that.

One the question of gays, male on male anal sex is the number one way that the virus gets transmitted. That's just a fact, I'm not passing judgement on the lifestyle. Quite honestly I'm sure there are gay people who are much smarter and contribute a lot more to society than I do. That doesn't change the fact that they are in the highest risk group for acquiring and transmitting aids.

At the same time I was under the impression that all blood is tested for the virus. Is there a latency period where it doesn't show up? If that's the case then obviously the risk is too high to accept someone in a high risk category.

Another thing, why the hell are we still in this donation phase. Isn't it a commodity? Anyone can use my blood. I should be able to sell it at a premium. Somebody is making big dollars off it. I say that because the St. Petersburg community blood center has a huge building with all kinds bureaucrats running around. When we talk about shortages, isn't it really about shortages of free blood? Throw a few sheckles after that blood and the shortages would be over with.

When I become a sterno bum I'll probably find the places that pay for blood, until then I'll just hand it over for the flirting, coke and some cookies. Oh yeah, movie ticket Mondays.

"Is there a latency period ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"Is there a latency period where it doesn't show up?"

I believe there is. Also, back when the AIDS virus was a huge issue, they tried the "test every donation" route, they still had bad blood getting through. Also, there is sometimes a shortage of blood to the point where there isn't time to test it (there was a lady in KY who spoke to one of my college classes back in the 80's who got an emergency transfusion and the only blood they had to give her was untested and turned out to be tainted).

Granted blood donation is still in reality on the honor system. A gay man could go and donate blood and lie, a person who had been to Europe could also lie. An intervenous drug user probably couldn't lie so well (I imagine a lab tech knows what needle tracks look like).

But I think with the recent discoveries of the super strains of the virus that are resistant to current drug regimines, that becoming lax on the blood donation safety standards would be asking for real trouble.

Is there a latency perio... (Below threshold)

Is there a latency period where it doesn't show up?

HCV Advocate

Although increasingly sensitive tests to detect HIV and HCV antibodies and HIV antigen were implemented during the past decade, in rare instances infections in donors have been missed. This is due to the “window period” during which a donor can be infected but still test negative on screening tests.

And, while testing has become more accurate, it's that first screening process that is the most important. And don't forget besides hiv there is hepatitus A/B/C and a few other diseases I don't recall that kill you just as easily.

Anyone working in healthcar... (Below threshold)

Anyone working in healthcare in a clinical capacity is innoculated against many things, including Hepatitis in variations, just because it's highly contagious and easily contracted and many times over when in the course of any day's work for many doctors and nurses, especially.

But, even volunteers are reputable hospitals/clinics are also innoculated for just about everything that we have a vaccination for.

So, doctors, nurses, many other healthcare workers (pathology, labs, etc.) can't donate blood because they then have antibodies to various nasty things that the blood screening process doesn't discriminate as to being an indication of a carrier of a disease or many diseases versus someone who was innoculated for many/various but still has antibodies for those/various infectious things.

Just saying, you can include most healthcare workers in that list of those "discriminated against" if that line of nuttiness is to be believed. Thank God that healthcare workers won't ever let it be believable, however, since they are among the most concerned about being exposed to contagious agents on any given day and many times over.

Ever see a surgeon donating blood? No? Well, that's why.

This is among the most stupid and irrational issues I've ever read, attempting to cry "discrimination against gays" because they can't donate blood. Purely insane.

And, about screening for HIV, it's quite possible for someone to contract the virus, and then go donate blood ten minutes (or similar) afterward. They can still transmit the virus but won't display evidence of infection, mostly, for a while later. However, they've then just made hapless others infected due to wreckless egotistical insistence on "not being 'discriminated' against."

And, yes, anal sex and sharing of intraveneous drug paraphenalia is the most effective means to transmit HIV, among many other infectious agents. Can't argue against the facts that are available via the biology and physiology of these issues.

Or some HIV infected dentis... (Below threshold)

Or some HIV infected dentist who wants to "teach society a lesson" by intentionally injecting HIV into the veins of hapless patients.

Which has happened. Among other horror stories of similar attempts to infect others based upon outrageously cruel insanity of action by some. A lot of people just won't share their infected status with others and so infect others who don't exercise individual standards...I can't say that they are so much refusing to share their infected status with others so much as they intend to share the infection, any infection, and not due too constructive motivations.

" Basically, if you have a... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

" Basically, if you have a medical condition, making an issue of not donating will affect your right to privacy as much as donating and checking the "don't use my blood" box."

I don't know how simply saying 'no' is 'making an issue of not donating', so I must be dense then.

I think donating blood should be voluntary; same with organ donation, same with giving money to charity, same with voting...maybe I'm wrong but none of those things are anyone else's business.

Les-I think it's g... (Below threshold)


I think it's great that you're obviously such a strong person who wouldn't be affected by peer pressure and all that.

However, many, if not most, people are not like you. Which do you think would be safer? You going on a personal campaign for the Red Cross telling people to "just say no" if they are in a high risk catagory, but don't want their boss/friends/co-workers to bug them about it? Or having the whole bar code thing?

I, personally, have no problem telling anyone that asks that I can't give blood because they found a Hepititis antibody in my blood, but not everyone's as cool as me and you, so I'm actually pretty glad they do the bar code thing. It's better than getting tainted blood when I'm in a car accident and then dying of AIDS later.

Luckily, the Red Cross and the FDA deal with the realities of life. Too bad some other sections of the government can't do the same.

"I don't know how simply sa... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"I don't know how simply saying 'no' is 'making an issue of not donating', so I must be dense then."

So says somebody who was neverin a greek organization.

Generally when it comes to something like blood donation (which lets all admit is a good thing to do, hard to imagine anyone being opposed to this), if you say "no" the next question will be a "why?" then either you are expected to share your reason, or if you insist it is private, then somebody will probably push further or assume the worst.

That is just how humans work-we don't like taking "no" for an answer, just ask any kid or teenager.

I understand all the points... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

I understand all the points made here.

Perhaps in the future, though, if some of you are facing peer pressure and you want to say no, maybe you could give it a try just once. I think you'll see that it's not an impossibly brave thing to do, and you'll feel good about standing up for yourself.

(Just to be clear, I think people who can donate blood have a moral obligation to do so; so they should.)

Mercifully for you all, I am done flogging this dead horse.

Best wishes.

PLEASE GO DONATE BLOOD TWIC... (Below threshold)







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