"But she’s not African…?"


I went to give a blood donation last night at the clinic organised for Ballyboden in Dublin. Buddy Blood Drop, pictured left with two of Ireland’s jobbing radio presenters, did not make an appearance to my grave disappointment. It’s a funny thing this blood donation – why? asks reader – thereby providing me with a reason to witter on a bit more.

It relies solely on voluntary action: you go along for the first time voluntarily, you can leave the clinic at any stage of the process (except of course when you have a needle in your arm) and subsequent visits are also purely up to you. All that the IBTS can do is send you an odd letter and a text message on the day of the clinic. The clinic last night was fairly busy but this may have had more to do with the cramped hall in which it was held than anything else.

  1. You register with a man in a suit and tie, who stares at a computer screen and asks you basic questions
  2. You complete the form he gives you including a question on handling monkeys, or their bodily fluids
  3. The details are confirmed by another person in a one to one interview – the fun part
  4. Your blood iron content is taken using a finger prick test and a small computer. I am such a sissy.
  5. Then you wait

and you wait

and you wait

Until they call your name and you have a pint of blood extracted – this takes only five minutes. I may post again on the strangely attractive qualities of the male nurse taking blood from my arm. He had a manner that exuded calmness and assuredness. I wouldn’t ride him but he had beautiful hazel eyes. He also let me know that he’d spent “some time in London” and that working in the clinic was “not for the attached man” what with all that travelling for the mobile clinic. Maybe I found him attractive because he was extracting the most vital of fluids from my body. Or maybe he was flirting with me?

At step three above – the confirmatory interview – the fun began. I had been asked in the questionnaire something like (and I’m sorry I cannot remember as the wording is crucial) had I ever had sex with someone who had spent time in areas of the world where HIV/AIDS is prevalent, e.g. East Asia or Africa. Now, my partner has spent some time in Africa and yes, we have had sex. Because I answered “yes” to this question, the confirmatory interviewer persisted with this (ok, it’s her job).

“But she’s not African?” No says I.
“Why did she spend time in Africa?” Study, says I.
“But she’s not African?” No says I.
“OK, we even have to ask this question of married people.” I understand says I, as if the possession of a marriage license precludes you from these questions!
“She’s not African?” No, she’s not African says I.

I think I refused to get annoyed because I knew pretty soon this same woman was going to be sticking a needle in my arm. At least she didn’t ask “She’s not black?”

As I said, funny thing this blood donation. It may not make you laugh but try to do it once in a while if you can.

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2 thoughts on “"But she’s not African…?"

  1. I’ve tried a couple of times and my donation has been refused on grounds of anaemia..we’ve never even gotten as far as the sexual history q and a’s.Perhaps I’ll try again

  2. Sexual history question aside, I think the alarm bells went off in this woman’s head when she heard Africa. Remember that migrant = Polish, refugee = African.

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