Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Free Red Gold Here

The Universal Donor ~ aka "Red Gold"

Ok, so sometimes I'm too sensitive.  Sometimes I let my feelings get hurt too easily.  Maybe I have an overdeveloped need to be appreciated.  Maybe I was just grumpy.  Or depressed from all the overcast, cloudy weather (I'm solar-powered, you know).  Coulda been any of those things that made me feel slighted by the woman at the bloodmobile.

I had received yet another email begging me to donate because, as usual at this time of year, "the available supply of O-negative blood is dangerously low."  I'm O-negative; also known as the Universal Donor because a person of any other blood type can be given O-negative blood if their exact type is not available, even a person with a positive blood type.  (Unfortunately, it doesn't work both ways - I can only be given O-negative blood.)

Mike and I have been planning to donate anyway.  He routinely donates about every 8 weeks, and I used to, until about two years ago when I began having trouble meeting the minimum requirement for iron.  But, the blood center is currently offering free cholestrerol screening with each donation and, since I've been on the vegan diet for about 2 months now and want to have my cholesterol re-checked - and I don't want to pay for it (my insurance won't pay for another lab test yet) - so I decided I'd take iron pills, eat spinach, raisins, & broccoli, and drink orange juice (the vitamin C helps the body absorb iron more efficiently), so that surely my iron level will be high enough to donate.

I used the link provided in the last email message from the Blood Centers of the Pacific, and Mike and I made appointments to donate at 5:45 p.m. yesterday, in Vallejo.  That was on Friday; I rec'd several more emails - appointment reminders - from the blood center; they didn't want me to forget!  I hadn't.  I was just as anxious - I wanted my new cholesterol numbers.

So Mike rushed home from work, picked me up, and we got to the Bloodmobile a couple of minutes before our appointment time of 5:45 p.m.  When we walked into the vehicle, it was packed with people.  All the beds were full, the little cubie where histories are taken was full, people were in the eensy waiting area, and we ended up standing in the entryway, looking around, and wondering what to do.  A moment or two later two more people came in behind us.  We attempted to make room, but there was nowhere to go.

A woman with a clipboard approached us from the front of the bus, looking frazzled.  Without even a "thank you for coming" she immediately lit into us with "we can't have this many people in the bus at once.  I realize most of you probably have appointments but you can't wait here."

Ok.....so, what do you want us to do?  Mike and I both tried to ask where we should wait (it was cold outside on the sidewalk!), or should we come back later, but the woman didn't even take the time to listen to our questions, she simply turned away and went back to tend to those that were in the process of donating.  Mike and I just looked at each other.  I was incredulous, but at times like these I tend to react in one of two ways:  1. just give up and go away, or 2. pitch a fit.

Mike hates it when I pitch a fit and, to be honest, I don't like it either because it can get pretty ugly, and then I feel bad about it for a long time.  So I clenched my teeth, turned, and yanked open the door.  We paused for a moment outside, considering our options; hang around and see if maybe we eventually get called back in, or leave?  Knowing I was in no mood now to be patient, I said let's just go home.

Today Mike called and got us donation appointments tomorrow at the actual Blood Centers of the Pacific building in Fairfield where I assume there are plenty of beds, a warm place to wait, lots of workers to process us through, and a welcoming atmosphere.  (It's unfortunate that we have to go all the way to Fairfield but the small donation location on Redwood in Vallejo closed this past year.)

Cross your fingers for me, though, that my iron is at a high enough level for me to donate, and that my cholesterol is back down to a healthy number!

See you there?


Elizabeth Peterson said...

My Mom is also O negative and she gets calls from the red cross all the time about needing her to donate. I am sorry that your exp. was so lame but I bet Mike was really glad you refrained from telling them what you really thought! :0)

Ashley Messick said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your negative experience. Your blog post popped up in my Google alert and I wanted to follow up. Certainly our bloodmobiles can sometimes get crowded but that should never be excuse for you to not be attended to in a professional and courteous manner. If you do not mind I would like to share your experience with our customer service department so they can be sure to address the issue. Please email me at amessick@bloodcenters.org if you would like to share any further information as well or would like for anyone from our customer service department to contact you so we can get your experience details directly.

Again, I apologize and thank you so much for being a donor. You really are saving lives!

- Ashley Messick
Social Media Specialist, Blood Centers of the Pacific