Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Safety of the Nation's Blood Supply

Before people understood exactly what HIV & AIDS were, my son Tommy needed to undergo an operation to repair a heart defect.  He had been born with Patent Ductus Arteriosois.  I thought I was going to die.  My beautiful, perfect, blond, blue-eyed baby was going to be sliced open because a connection which nature should close when a child leaves the womb had failed to do so with Tommy  I was told that unless it caused problems, they would wait until he hit a certain age and weight.  So for a couple of years I blocked this news.  But then Tommy hit the zone.  He was the right weight to tolerate the operation, but too young to experience the danger of embolism.  Because you see the connection never grows and the older he got, the more blood was rushing through that small connection.

It was the early 80s and there was no Internet, no social media.  But Time & Newsweek and other things I read talked about a gay cancer.  No one was quite sure how it was transmitted.  The blood banks didn't know how to screen for it.  So I asked how much blood would possibly be used during the course of my son's operation,  It was explained that they weren't set up to have blood donated & earmarked for a particular patient.  I told them to figure it out.  Because any blood going into my son's body would be hand selected by me.  I insisted, they relented.  I'm sure they thought I was a little hysterical.  But my mother said I was right and that's really all I needed.  They said 3 pints, but set up five donors.  It wasn't as easy as I thought.  My Dad was on anti-biotics.  Jennifer was too young, etc.  So we ended up with his Dad John, his godfather Jim & me.  I had my brother Frank and cousin Danny in reserve.

They didn't end up needing any of it and it was donated to the blood bank.  Everything went really well and they were able to get by with a blood pharesis machine.  Coincidentally, my Dad was an executive at Haemonetics and a brand spanking new blood pheresis machine with a team of techs was present for the operation.  On the first anniversary visit, the doctor said they changed everything in the blood bank and now everyone who could came in donated their own blood to be used on themselves.

John and I donated blood regularly.  We were civic minded folks.  One of the first clues I had that something we wrong with me in 2007/2008 was the despite living the Atkins Dream diet, green veggies and red meat, I was rejected twice during community blood drives.  Both times my iron level was too low.  What?  How could that be possible?  But I let it slide until the summer of 2008 and the doctor said I was anemic.

I would never again try to donate blood.  When my Multiple Myeloma diagnosis was officially made, I was warned to never donate blood or blood products.  I remember thinking, "Duh"!

When I started on Revlimid and later on Pomalyst I had to/have to answer a survey every six months or so where I state repeatedly several different ways the I will not donate blood.  Every time I think "Who is the fucking jackass who is trying to donate blood?"

Over the course of my fight to beat back my MM, which can't be cured, I have received blood products.  I don't worry too much because I know that blood is being screened for HIV, -people exposed to Mad Cow, people traveling outside the country, yada, yada.

But lo and behold, just when you think some people have common sense, real life kicks you in the pants.

Gov Brown of California has signed  SB 239 allowing people who are HIV positive to donate blood and not notify the blood bank of their HIV+ status.

Because you see, these poor little HIV+ patients "felt they were being criminalized.''

What?  I can't donate blood and I don't feel criminalized.

Is donated blood some right in the Constitution I missed?

If you know you are HIV+ and you attempt to donate blood, you are the scum of the earth.  And I better never meet up with you.

If your feelings are worth risking someone else's life, you are subhuman and your feelings of inferiority are real.

1 comment:

Boquisucio said...

Long ago, I stopped trying to understand those wacky Californians