The Swedish Blood Center finally took my blood, or more specifically, collected 470cl of it; more fondly and nostalgically known as a pint.
Third time is a charm (from the Swedish expression, Tredje gången gilt) This was my third attempt to donate after I “qualified”. Sweden is self-sufficient for its blood supply so I guess as they are most often “bathing in blood” they can afford to be picky. According to their own site, in brilliant English I might add, states, “To become a blood donor in Sweden you must speak and understand Swedish, have a Swedish identity number and be a healthy person between the ages of 18-60.” The argument to support this screening process involves a prudent requirement for the donor to understand all the questions and the consequences. And certainly all of this could be provided in English, but Swedes are equal opportunity –and if they can’t translate it into all languages of potential non-Swedish-speaking donors, they shouldn’t favor one over the other. Or something like that.
Being gay is no longer a deal breaker for donating blood. Apparently if you are a gay man and can establish (or maybe if you just swear) that you haven’t had sex in over a year, you can donate blood. I can’t imagine there are many men who are so utterly devoted to the opportunity to donate.
I don’t really fully appreciate why they make it so hard to donate blood. They can turn you down if you have backache (which was one reason they rejected me on a previous try) because apparently you need your blood more than they do. A woman sitting beside me today was turned away for this reason. She didn’t take it well (and I empathized) because it was the 2nd time she was refused. I never knew that aches and pains were so blood-thirsty.
Today, donating felt more like I was sneaking around or getting away with something. I didn’t dare answer any questions which could raise a flag. I wasn’t admitting to any sniffs or sneezes let alone a fictitious secret fantasy to test out the life of a sexually active gay man.
One box of chocolates (A Christmas treat), one losing Triss Lott and two Festis boxes later I descended the Blood Bus triumphant. A Swedish blood donor.