“Because I said I would…” is series of entries inspired by a project of the same name. While living in Quito I’ve got ten goals for myself, and I’m writing about each one as I accomplish it.
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The first time I gave blood was when I was 17, at a high school blood drive. As with most people, I had a bit of trepidation the first time I let a stranger stick a 16 gauge needle into my arm, but I quickly realized that the experience isn’t that bad. After that first successful donation, and after learning that my blood type is O negative, I started donating as often as the Red Cross allowed. I also may or may not have been trying to match the gallons of blood that my Grandpa Diller selflessly donated during his life. While in high school, and into college, I consistently went to the local Red Cross every eight weeks and pumped out a pint of blood.
Sometime around 2009 I was nearing 20 total pints donated when I received a random phone call from the Red Cross. I had donated about three weeks prior, and they were calling to inform me that a test for Chagas Disease had come back positive on my last blood samples. I had no idea what Chagas Disease even was, but I wasn’t too worried, as they said that it was a new type of test and could’ve been an error. They had me come back in, took some more samples, did a few more tests, and told me that I was healthy and clear of Chagas Disease. Unfortunately, however, the Red Cross also told me that I could no longer donate blood. In the subsequent years I attempted to donate in Indiana, Kansas, and Alaska, and was turned away every time. I was frustrated that they essentially banned me for that one false positive test result. Though, I suppose it’s a moot point now, as I’m sure I can’t donate in the States because I’ve lived in Ecuador for over a year.
Fortunately, though, the rules in Ecuador are a little more lax! The last time that I donated blood was in Guayaquil, about a year and a half ago, so I knew that the Red Cross’ refusal of my blood didn’t extend to South America. When I moved back to Quito I made it a point to figure out where I could start donating regularly. It ended up being super easy to find a place to donate, as the local Red Cross sets up four mobile donation stations around the city every weekday, and publishes their locations online each week. I had been trying to find the time to donate over the past couple of weeks, and this past Tuesday a donation point was set up at a park just a few blocks from my office.
After grabbing lunch, I walked down to the tent that was set up, filled out the necessary paperwork, and donated some O negative. I hadn’t donated for over a year, but it was just the same as always. A quick finger prick to test iron levels, the sting of the needle, about ten minutes of opening and closing my hand, and that’s it. Plus some juice and cookies afterwards just like in the States. And, same as always, the most unpleasant/painful part of the whole experience was yanking off the band-aid the next day!
Now to wait three months, and it will be off to find another spot to donate again. And in the meantime, you should go donate too!!