'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
BLOOD SUPPLY SHORTAGE
Our state is in the middle of a blood shortage crisis. The blood supply is very low because there are only about 12 people in the entire state who are eligible to give blood. I know this because I just learned that I am not one of them.
When I heard on the radio a couple of weeks ago about the blood shortage, the news reporter also mentioned the Red Cross would be collecting blood in the same town I was planning to visit later that day. After wrestling with my conscience for a few minutes (“Do I have the time? Yes. Do I like getting poked in the arm with a needle? No. Hmm, what should I do…?”), I decided it was my civic duty to donate blood.
I arrived at the place where the blood drive was being held and saw a small sign explaining the requirements: “To give blood for transfusion to another person, you must be healthy, be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not have donated blood in the last 56 days.”
Well, no problem, I thought. I turned 17 when Richard Nixon was president. I shot past 110 pounds (and still climbing) when Lyndon Johnson was president. And I couldn’t even remember the last time I gave blood. (Probably when Thomas Jefferson was president.)
After a brief wait, I was escorted to a private area where a nurse performed a mini-physical exam, checking my temperature (normal), my blood pressure (not bad), and my pulse (I had one).
Then she began to ask me a series of confidential questions about my health and lifestyle to determine if I was truly eligible to give blood. First, there were travel related questions. People are ineligible to donate blood if they have lived in Great Britain, even for a few months, since 1980 (concerns about Mad Cow Disease); lived in any of a long list of African nations since 1977 (AIDS); or traveled to China or Toronto in the past few months (SARS).
Then there were lifestyle questions. The nurse asked me if I had ever used a needle, even once, to take drugs or steroids that were not prescribed by a physician; if I had snorted cocaine during the past 12 months; and if I had ever had sex with another male since 1977.
She also asked me if I had given a female money to have sex with me in the last 12 months. Now at this point, some other columnist, simply looking for a cheap laugh, would write something about coming home last December with a Christmas bonus check which caused his wife to become quite, um, excited. But of course, I would never stoop that low just for a laugh. In fact, I would never even think such a juvenile, unfunny thought. (And I know it’s unfunny because when I said it to the nurse, she didn’t even crack a smile.)
Then the nurse asked me about tattoos. Because of hepatitis concerns, anyone who has gotten a tattoo within the last 12 months cannot donate blood. Well, there you go. No wonder there’s a blood shortage crisis. With the popularity of tattoos nowadays, half the population is automatically ineligible.
The last question the nurse asked was: Have you been treated for cancer in the past five years? I immediately said no, then paused and said, “Oh wait a minute. I did have a little skin cancer thing a couple years ago. No problem.” Well, it was a problem, and I was politely informed the Red Cross did not want my blood.
As I started to walk toward the exit, rather than toward the area where blood was being drawn, I noticed some folks staring at me. I assumed they were wondering what terrible thing I had done to be rejected.
I couldn’t think of anything else to say, so I blurted out, “Boy, you pay money for sex and cocaine in a Toronto tattoo parlor, and suddenly nobody wants your blood! Sheesh!”
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