Universal donor

Is he still an asshole? Probably.

I jealously guard my own blood. It’s perfectly content circulating in its closed system. Why breach the floodgates? Except…

As a universal donor without a history of intravenous drug use, communicable illness, or an early-80s sexual history on the African continent, it seems that I have a kind of moral obligation to dole out a pint at a time for my fellow man. Only three people in 100 can/do donate blood. A single donation can save up to three lives.

These are unequivocal arguments for the giving of blood. Only an epic asshole would deny the hour or so it takes to help out. Which of course makes me, by my own logic, an epic asshole.

I’ve been dodging calls from the American Red Cross for months now. In the fall, my guilt got the best of me and I went to donate. Donating makes me cold and edgy. There was no one at the check in table, and I milled around in confusion until someone eventually took pity on me. I went through the interview process, settled into the rickety chair and focused on the ceiling while the technician got things sorted. It hurt to a surprising degree, and then after a while she noticed that she’d jabbed straight through the vein and given me a hematoma. I was profoundly relieved when she sent me to the cookie table. I had been terrified she’d ask to give the other arm a go.

I’m not super-squeamish. I can even take a little pain. But I still feel deeply ambivalent about the process. My intellectual understanding of the benefits are not enough to overcome my hesitation. And a handful of uncomfortable experiences like the above (a grand total of three) have kept me from feeling the dopamine-drenched high of giving back in the wake of a donation. Post-donation cookies and juice are not a motivator for me.

What would get me to give? I think two things. One, a direct connection to someone in need. If a friend or family member needed blood, my ass would be in that rickety chair in an instant. Two, another crippling wave of guilt. The latter of which is  probably just a matter of time.


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