Hamish Joy : Blood Donor

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In the interest of humanity, and for the sake of a better future, a little blood must flow. Today, after some deliberation and some heavy doses of serious gulping, I decided to squirt out some of my blood, on the optimistic stand that somebody else might have better use for it. So I went to participate whole…. Say three-quarter heartily in the blood donation campaign conducted in my college auditorium, for the Rotary ttk Blood Bank, a regional blood transfusion centre in Bangalore.

And I wanted to share this experience. Donating blood is a fine way of extending a human life. And the bank recommends that you do it once in three months, and irrespective of what I may write here, I’d like you to consider donating once in a while. Some may feel, “Oh, so he donated some blood. What’s the big deal? Why does he have to brag? Why does he clutter my mailbox so?” And to those special people, I say “COZ IT’S MY BLOOD, YOU INCONSIDERATE #%#%@.” Of course, I know there are people who do this kind of social service every chance they get. And they can’t look at a needle without rolling up their sleeves and asking “Are the bags ready?” God bless them, and science save them. But this was MY first time, and I’m all set to write about it. So there!!

Another reason is that I really want to write something. Motivation is high. My fan base has just doubled today afternoon! Yesterday, one of my friends, Nidhi, a.k.a. the ICFAIan Dido, said she liked the way I wrote. And today afternoon, one of my seniors, Nash (not Bridges, another one), chipped in with a similar phrase. My math is a bit rustic, and I have not kept myself updated with the latest buzz, but as far as I can think, double of one is, or at least should be, two. So, what do you know, I swelled with pride, though I must confess that very few people could have noticed, granting that I am way too swollen up already.

Our auditorium had a hospital-like atmosphere, with hospital beds and doctors strewn about for good measure. Nervous as I was, I steadily followed an equally nervous senior, whose name, for reasons of anonymity, I will try not to mention. Control… control… control…. bah, ok, ok, his name was Deepak. You satisfied?

As step one, our weights were measured. I managed to get a reading in a single weighing machine in one go. That too, without damaging it!! So far, I thought, things were looking good. Next, we were required to fill out a form. That, of course, didn’t surprise me. I’ve opened accounts in other banks before… They invariably want you to fill forms. I found no reasons for blood banks to think differently. But there was a list of questions that we were supposed to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by ticking the appropriate space, and the first question DID indeed surprise me. I forgot the exact words, but it went something like

I am donating blood voluntarily YES NO

Shaken, and visibly stirred, I slowly looked about wondering if somebody might be there involuntarily. My keen eye spotted one student who was viciously held down on the bed by two volunteers as a nurse siphoned off his blood, laughing menacingly. But later on, I concluded that the volunteers must have been merely assisting the donor, and the menacing laugh must have been merely my imagination gone wild. It happens sometimes.

In the next stage, one guy in a lab coat made me sit down, and took my right hand in his. He rubbed some sort of medicine on the tip of my ring finger, and just when my guard was down, stabbed me with a blade! Ouch! And as I lay there staring at him, he did some sort of hocus-pocus on some drops of blood (MY blood!!) and with the air of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, triumphantly turned to me and said “Your blood group is B+” Jesus! If he wanted to know my blood group, he could just have asked! There was no need for the torture!

Up next, I was told to rest on a bed, whereupon a nurse came up to me with the scary siphoning hose and started the transfer. Having lost serious opportunities of sleep during the last few days, the bed they offered seemed pretty comfy. The rest I got almost made the payment in blood seem worthwhile.

After the process, I was supplied with a cute little band-aid to clear up any evidence of the blood siphoning, coz these doctors were a cunning lot… and they also offered some juice and two biscuits. Not bad, I thought. After all, all I lost was a little bit of blood. If they had come a week earlier to my home, where I had cut myself while shaving, they wouldn’t have needed all the sophisticated equipment. They could have done their stuff with just a clean empty glass.

I also witnessed that some donors had felt giddy. That was to be expected. They took blood from only the right arm of all donors. This would make them lose their balance! Simple physics. None of the giddy-factors could have come into play if they had merely collected equal amounts of blood from both hands. Their neglecting this simple fact made me mad. I almost felt like going up to them and demanding my blood back. But I let it go. “They are physicians, not physicists”, I reminded myself.

There are other interesting things that I need to explain, but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to cut this short. The tip of my ring finger is straining a bit from all this typing…. And your eyes are straining as well… In any case, it was interesting for me. Firstly, I helped somebody who will someday use my blood as the nectar of life. Secondly, it seemed the easiest way to finally lose some weight. Thirdly, I was able to see the bag that containing my blood, and was able to finally conclude that they are right. Blood IS thicker than water.

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