Blood. Gross.

Allow gay men to donate blood.

The next time I donate blood, which is scheduled to be the end of August, it will be the 144th time. I will get my 18-gallon pin. Let me explain how I got there.

Time #1 – I was working at IBM, after high school, and before I went to college. It was an OK, not a great job. When management said I could take off to donate for an hour to donate blood AND GET PAID my normal wage, that was enough.
I donated a handful of times in college.
But I didn’t get regular, like five or six times a year regular, until the 1980s. I’d go to the well-named Clara Barton Drive, off Hackett Blvd in Albany, on my way to work.
When I started working downtown, I switched to the location in the Empire State Plaza, again giving on the way to work, or occasionally at lunchtime.
since I’ve started working at Corporate (frickin’) Woods, I’ve still donated at ESP or on Everett Road, but it just takes longer.

There have been very few times I was unable to give. Once or twice because I was a little anemic by Red Cross standards. Ate a lot of spinach and I was fine. I got some sun rash from being in Barbados in May 1999 and had to wait a month. But the longest time off was for 13 months in 2002-2003, when I had a series of rabies shots and had to wait a year.

I should note that it’s not all altruism. I’m convinced that there are real health benefits for the donor.

One of the things in the Red Cross mantra is that only about five percent of the eligible donors actually give. One suggestion I’ve made in this blog before, though I now see it was nearly five years ago.

It is this: allow gay men to donate blood. The question I have to answer for every donation is if I have ever had sex, even once with another male since 1977. If the answer had been yes, I would have been disqualified. Since I last mentioned this topic, I have donated an average of 5.6 times per year. I’m told that I may have saved the lives of three or four dozen people since then.

It seems the argument against gay males donating is that they may have a communicable disease. I find the assumption quite absurd, discriminatory, and worse, not in the best interest of the American Red Cross. Of course one doesn’t want someone with HIV AIDS, any more than one would want someone with hepatitis, active cancer, or a bleeding disease. But that is screened in the questions, and double-checked in the lab. Still makes no sense to me.

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