21
Jun
12

The Germans don’t beef about draining my blood

I used to donate blood when I lived in Canada, but am no longer allowed to, even if I paid them.  Because I lived for more than three months in France in the early 1980s, I’m no longer eligible to give blood in Canada.

Eet ees ze vache folle, you see.  Mad Cow disease.  The Canadians fear I’m a carrier because France at the time I lived there was importing possibly infected beef from Thatcher’s Britain, a mad cow dominion if there ever was one.

Roast beef?  Hah! I could tell them that as a struggling student I lived exclusively on baguette and brie washed down with cheap wine, but it wouldn’t do any good.

In fact, if you applied Canada’s incredibly strict rules for donating blood to Germany, the entire system in this country would collapse.  That’s because Canada now says that if you’ve lived for more than five years at a time in Europe at any time since 1980, they won’t allow you to donate, either.

Canada is paranoid, I suppose, because there really is no way of knowing whether my blood is tainted or not, or, if I truly am a carrier, when it will flare up.  There’s this disease called Kuru that still pops up in former cannibals from New Guinea about once or twice a year, even though it was more than 50 years ago the last time they tucked into some filet humain.  Kuru is what they call a prion disease, and is like mad cow in that the cattle got it after being fed the ground-up – and infected – bits of their forefathers .  That was a bad idea, because it spread to humans and has killed more than 170 people so far.

But the Germans see beyond all that, and have no qualms about sticking needles into my left Canuck arm to drain a bit of fluid.

Every eight weeks I go to a clinic about 20 minutes away, down a litre of fruit juice while filling out a form that says I am still in a monogamous relationship with a human being I trust, have not suddenly decided to swap needles with strangers, and am not at the moment on day four of a three-day bender.

Then I go have some more juice while waiting my turn at the draining beds.   It takes only a few minutes of semi-horizontal relaxation with the friendly nurses, after which they give me a meal voucher I trade for two long, crunchy European wieners and a mound of potato salad washed down with another litre of fruit juice.  Gotta make sure I don’t collapse on the way home, I guess.

For all that they give me €23 to cover my bus fare, time and trouble.  But they also give me a bit more.  Even though your contribution is anonymous, indirect and just a drop in the bucket, it’s a good feeling to know it’s going to help someone get through their stay in hospital.

And you might call it the karmic installment savings plan, but some day I might be hauled in on a stretcher and need to make a withdrawal myself.


20 Responses to “The Germans don’t beef about draining my blood”


  1. June 21, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Then again, if you had lived in Britain rather than in France, even if just for six months, you’d be banned from donating here, too.
    Or if you were in a monogamous male human being you trust, for that matter.

  2. June 21, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Whoops, forgot a “relationship with a” after “monogamous” there.

    (Otherwise it would make for a rather awkward donation, i suppose.)

  3. June 21, 2012 at 9:01 am

    What’s your blood group? When I’m hauled in on a stretcher, I’ll want to know that the blood I’m receiving was nourished on brie and red wine… :)

  4. 4 Jan-Ole
    June 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

    To be quite honest, for me as a “struggling student” 23€+food every eight weeks sounds much better than the meagre 0€+ a few sandwiches every three months or so that I get for donating blood ( and I live in Hamburg as well…). But then again, I don’t really do it for any kind of personal gain – that karmic plan is much more important.

  5. 5 hmunro
    June 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Although the laws in the States aren’t as stringent as those in Canada, I too was dismayed to be turned away a couple of times because I’d had the audacity to visit Britain. (As with you, never mind that I didn’t eat or fraternize with any bovines.) But I’m glad you’ve been able to start donating again … and may Mrs. Good Karma repay you generously!

  6. June 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Crikey! I never realised I was such an outcast until now. Funnily enough the UK doesn’t stop you from giving blood if you’ve eaten beef in the UK, or else we’d all be screwed. We are however told to keep an eye out for Canadians who may have given us West Nile Virus, which may prevent us from giving blood. ;-)

  7. June 22, 2012 at 10:36 am

    You give blood every 8 weeks- I find that incredibly noble.

  8. June 23, 2012 at 2:11 am

    I had to go on a ten-year hiatus when I got back from Liberia. That malarial thing, you know. I kept trying to explain that there are different kinds, and not all are recurring, but…

    Now, I don’t donate regularly, but am on call in case they need my type (AB-). I get a call every now and then, but I don’t get such good treats. Those weiners and potato salad sound pretty good.

    • June 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      It’s sometimes hard to stick to the 8-week regimen. I haven’t donated in 10 weeks now, and won’t until the jetlag is finally over. Then there’s finding time before or after work. It’s not always convenient.

  9. July 4, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I’m going go to to Karlsruhe to donate blood today :D I got a monthly transit pass from my boyfriend as a present for me to get the hell out of this shit small outskirt :D I’m Canadian. When I donated blood in Vancouver, I only got cookies and juice…. in Saskatoon, I got chicken soup made by a nice old granny. I don’t like sausages… ;( I hope they have soup for me and lots of juices. I want cranberry juice since they are expensive here….

    • July 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

      I hope it’s not for nought as it was for me yesterday. I got back from Canada about two weeks ago. While at the donor clinic yesterday they told me I can’t give blood for another two and a half weeks because there is a one-month waiting period for donating if you’ve recently been to Canada or the US. It’s all about the West Nile virus. They said the waiting period is in effect between June and November. So they gave me bus fare and sent me home…

  10. August 2, 2012 at 12:56 am

    I often think I should go donate blood, but I so seldom leave the house except on quick errands, due to my work at home job, I forget. I WILL get there, as I’m O-, I’m in high demand…

    You know, being around 30 years of age, I’m somewhat shocked to learn that cannibalism was happening only just 50 years ago. I will have to go read about that.

  11. August 10, 2012 at 7:03 am

    You want to feel bad? If you’ve ever had a blood-based cancer like I have, even the Organ Donor people will turn you away. They won’t take my blood when I’m alive or my body parts when I’m dead.

    I wonder, however, if some profiteer wouldn’t still grind me up and sell me for Juvederm.

  12. August 15, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Wow every 8 wks. The rule in Canada and U.S. is that folks like me can’t donate blood: I’m 100 lbs. Some times of the year, a bit less.

    • August 15, 2012 at 8:19 am

      I don’t know about weight, but I guess it makes sense. Your litre will be a larger percentage of the total than mine! The rule here is once every eight weeks for men, ten weeks for women.

  13. May 27, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I will become a persona non-grata both in the US AND in Germany for blood donation in a year or two :( That makes me sad, because with my blood type, I’m a universal donor. I have been told that for German donation, I’ve been in the US too long (which I feel like I should check another source on that info!) and for the US, I will have been in Europe too much to donate. I do donate through US military channels in Germany since I have an affiliation with them and they’ll take my blood for a couple of years. I was never given anything but cookies and juice, and usually both are filled with high fructose corn syrup, which I’d rather bypass. Oh well.


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