Peter Explains He Is Right, Right, Bloody Well Right

A number of adages have guided me through Life. For example, “Only a fool lets their ex give them a haircut.” One that has far more relevance to my column today however is “If the only reason you do a good deed is for recognition or reward, you are doing it for the wrong reason, my friend.” However,  I feel that the importance of my following message makes  bending that rule worthwhile.

I am NOT paying for this Haircut!

There is always a need for blood, platelets, plasma and other blood by products, and not just for treating accident victims and those undergoing surgery. Leukemia patients need platelets on a daily basis, stem cells are used for medical treatment and research  plus bone marrow donors are always required.

I am a proud blood donor, but can only speak to the protocol in Ontario, my home, so your mileage might vary, depending on where you live. Last Saturday, I made my 68th whole blood donation.  Blood donations were handled in Ontario by the Canadian Red Cross until the early 1990s, when tainted blood donations resulted in a number of whole blood recipients being infected with Hepatitis C. I know one of these unfortunate people, and quite frankly I am ashamed at the delay in paying these unwitting victims their rightful compensation. She suffered a great deal waiting for the settlement owed her. Naturally there was an enquiry about the collection criteria, fines were imposed and the complete blood collection screening system received an overhaul. Canadian Blood Services has since taken over this task.

I began donating whole blood when I was 16 years old. In 1979 I became a father and decided to become a platelet donor. The fact that my wife of the time had a cousin who had died of leukemia as a child played no small part in my decision.

Platelet collection is more involved than whole blood donations. The procedure took about 2 hours at that time. You sat in a comfy chair and watched a movie, while a centrifuge took your blood and spun it to separate the platelets, before returning the residue to your body. It generally occurred during the week, and a succession of managers were delighted to give me the time off with pay. Now, whether they were so generous because they could then tell  other managers that they had a selfless employee who donated platelets or it was their subtle way of telling me that my unit could function just fine without me, I frankly do not know, nor did I venture to ask. (I only look stupid.) One time I was being readied for my donation and I quipped “Well, I hope that needle is sharp.” The nurse turned around, pretended to stagger groggily and said “Oh yes, I was up all night sharpening it!” Her witty response led to one of the few times in my life when I’ve been utterly speechless. I also remember one of my co workers stopping and giving me a spontaneous hug while we were crossing Eglinton Avenue. I had just mentioned in passing that I was a platelet donor, and she then told me that her father depended on those donations. That really drove home the importance of what I was doing.

Sadly however, changes in my life meant that my opportunities to donate were interrupted. However,the need for blood will not go away, at least for the foreseeable future, so a few years ago I decided to get back into “the game”, so to speak. I had previously been in a serious accident, and required 5 units of whole blood, so I wanted to continue to “give back”.I was seeing Lois, so I would go to the clinic at Bay and Bloor in Toronto after work, as a walk-in. One now had to fill out a pre-screening questionnaire, filling in little boxes like picking 6/49 numbers and, being in a hurry to get it completed so I could meet Lois,  I breezed through it.

We have a saying in the arcane world of plastic modelling, “When in doubt, read the instructions.” During my interview with the nurse where she would check my vital signs and go through my questionnaire, her eyebrows shot up in alarm. In my haste to get the thing completed, I had answered “Yes” to questions like “Have you taken money or drugs for sex in the last year?” Much verbal tap dancing on my part got the whole mess eventually straightened out, but when I finally did meet Lois and she asked what had kept me, I was too embarrassed to answer. Now she will know the whole story, should she bother to read this column.

When I left Lois’ apartment last Saturday morning, I took my baseball cap  out of its carrier and made it jump up and down in my hand, like a puppy eager to go for a walk. (Have I ever mentioned that Lois hates baseball caps?) I told it to calm down, said goodbye to my now frowning sweetie and set out.

When I got to the clinic, I checked in and booked my next appointment. Having read the instructions, I breezed through the screening, and sat down in the chair. It reminds me of an F-16 seat because of its backwards tilt. There was a little bit of discomfort when the nurse put the needle into my arm. This is probably a good time to mention that although I am usually somewhat irreverent, I treat this nurse with the same “base spaniel fawning” that I used to employ when dealing with customs officials upon my return to Canada. Even I don’t recognize myself at those times! 25 minutes later, I was on my way home.

I encourage everyone who is able to donate blood to do so. It’s an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, to help to replace despair with hope. Even if you are unable to donate, volunteers are always needed. Contact Canadian Blood Services for further information.

My next donation appointment was booked for November 11th. I requested 11:00 A.M. I think that that is a very appropriate time.

See you soon.


2 Responses to “Peter Explains He Is Right, Right, Bloody Well Right”

  1. Hi Peter! Very informative in a way that only you could say! You took the mystery & fear of the unknown in becoming a blood donor. I am very thankful for all blood donors as I have been a grateful recipient of their gift!

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