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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • The irony of blood donation

  •   This week I tried donating blood — twice — and was deferred — twice. Being deferred was a first, and it really bothered me.  I’ve never been deferred before  — well, okay, except for that one time I wasn’t allowed to donate blood ...
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  •   Oooo, it makes me so mad. This week I tried donating blood — twice — and was deferred — twice. Being deferred was a first, and it really bothered me.  I’ve never been deferred before  — well, okay, except for that one time I wasn’t allowed to donate blood for over 20 years because I my blood was misdiagnosed with an incorrect Hepatitis B lab test result once, but that’s a different story. Anyway, this week was the first time I’ve been deferred for an actual, legitimate reason. When the Red Cross technicians tested my blood, the iron level was a few tenths of a percentage point too low.  You know how the Red Cross tests the level of iron in your blood, right? You sit there in the little privacy booth that everyone can see into and hear around, and a technician pokes the tip of your middle finger with a needle-thing like people with diabetes use when they test their blood. When a few drops of blood pop up, the technician scoops a drop into a plastic holder, then places it in a machine. A few seconds later a number appears on the read-out.  If the number is too low and you want to try again, a second technician comes in and tests your blood with the middle finger of your other hand. For me as an adult male to donate blood, the number had to be at least 12.5. When I tried donating blood on Monday, the iron level didn’t go any higher than 12. That night, and the next day for lunch, I made sure to eat lots of red meat.  When I went in on Tuesday afternoon to try donating again, the Red Cross again had to test the tips of both my middle fingers, and the number still didn’t get any higher than 12.3. Disappointed and glowering, I went back to the Gazette offices on Tuesday and showed everyone the band-aids on the tips of my two fingers to prove I had at least tried to donate blood.  I could tell pretty quickly everyone was really offended I had been deferred, too. As I walked around showing everyone my band-aids, some people said, “Well, I never!” and “The nerve!” I don’t quite understand why two women slapped me, and three guys belted me in the stomach. They must have been having bad days or something. Anyway, having low iron is something you can do something about. The next time the bloodmobile is in town, I plan to spend the week before eating lots of iron-rich foods like red meat, beans, broccoli, whole grain breads, raisins.... Dang. I just went and made myself hungry.
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