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Bookmarks for Blood

For a long time, I’d assumed I couldn’t donate blood because of my diabetes.

Yeah, I was wrong. But I didn’t find that out until earlier today. I was still thinking about Orlando, and feeling generally powerless. I wanted to do something. I got to thinking about blood donation. My diabetes is under good control. My HBA1C has been relatively normal for ages. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to donate?

So I looked up the eligibility requirements.

Red Cross BuildingAn hour later, I was sitting at the Lansing Blood Donation Center, answering questions and getting prepped.

The whole process took about an hour. The most annoying part was the finger-prick so they could test my iron. (Their finger-stabber jabs a lot deeper than the one I use to check my blood sugar, but they have to use their own equipment.) The actual bloodletting was really quick. Apparently I’m a fast bleeder.

It doesn’t help the wounded in Orlando. Their blood banks are currently at capacity. (Though they’re asking people to schedule future appointments, because the supplies will need to be replenished.) But it’s a way to help someone.

And a much darker part of my brain keeps whispering that if nothing changes, sooner or later my home will face the same kind of tragedy, and the same need for blood, as Orlando, Virginia Tech, Newtown, and all the rest.


Author Janet Kagan had a page on her website asking people to donate blood. Janet died in 2008, but  the page is still there. She didn’t weigh enough to donate herself, so she asked others to do so. She even offered to send a homemade postcard as thanks.

I want to do something similar to encourage more people to donate. For the rest of June, I’ll send an autographed bookmark to any first-time blood donors in the U.S. Depending on how this goes, I may extend that offer indefinitely. It’s not much, I know…but it’s something. (And it will have Katy Shuttleworth’s awesome artwork, similar to my website banner, but with a Libriomancer quote about books.)

Just email me at jchines -at- sff.net once you’ve donated, telling me where to mail your bookmark.

Donate for those who need it. Donate for those people who aren’t able to do so themselves, either for health reasons, or because of outdated, discriminatory regulations. (According to the Red Cross, men who’ve had sexual contact with other men aren’t allowed to donate, though they’re working to update their policies to bring them into alignment with the December 2015 change to that FDA guidance.)


There are a lot of other ways to support the people of Orlando. There are lots of ways to try to make the world better, day by day.

This is one way. It’s one I didn’t used to think I could do. Despite my sore finger and the tender spot on my inner elbow, I’m very glad to have been wrong.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2016 02:31 am (UTC)
I donated once, back in college. My blood pressure tends to run very low and when they tested it, it was too low for me to donate. So the nurse told me to go sit in the corner and think exciting thoughts for a bit, then come back. It worked :-) Donating was easy-peasy.

Unfortunately, when I got mono later that year, it was bad enough that I got (noninfectious) hepatitis with it. And their rules say that if you have ever had hepatitis of any kind, you can't donate. Too bad, too, since I am 0- (the universal donor).

But I love what you're doing here.
Jun. 16th, 2016 11:04 am (UTC)
Women who have had sexual contact with a bisexual man in the last 6 or 12 months (I can't remember) also cannot donate.

I used to, I lived near a church who has an amazing staff who ran a blood drive every 8 weeks like clockwork (8 weeks is how long you have to wait to donate again). They were, and likely still are, the most successful donation site in my state (because they were open 10-7 I could donate after work). I do miss it at times, I met some amazing people at the snack table.
Jun. 16th, 2016 12:39 pm (UTC)
Subtle but possibly relevant distinction: the rules here are about sexual activity, not orientation. There are men who have sex with men who identify as straight, and the "wait a year" rule applies to them and their partners. Conversely, there are gay and bisexual men who have never had sex with another man. I knew one, years ago, who was abstaining until he found someone he wanted to settle down with long-term; he was pleasantly surprised when I pointed out that until then, he was eligible to donate even under the lifetime-exclusion rules of the 1990s.

(It doesn't make medical sense that two men in a monogamous sexual relationship are still both banned from donating, but I don't think I need to go into that here; it would, I hope, be preaching to the choir.)
Jun. 16th, 2016 05:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you for donating. My family were big blood donors for many years. And then one day the Mad-Cow disease restrictions came along and we were no longer allowed to donate. So thank you for doing what I cannot.
Jun. 16th, 2016 07:06 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, I lie to the blood bank about my travel history to donate, because I was a vegetarian then anyway. The risk would be vanishingly small even if I hadn't been, in my opinion.
Jun. 16th, 2016 05:50 pm (UTC)
I was probably closing in on two gallons donated when my immune disorder kicked in and I can no longer donate.

So thank you, Jim. It takes portions from 10,000 donors to make one batch of immuneglobin for me.
Jun. 17th, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC)
Do you have a suggestion for those of us who can't currently donate blood? Ovarian cancer three years ago means they won't take mine.
Jun. 17th, 2016 03:23 pm (UTC)
Answered my own question by reading more carefully, and supported the gofundme campaign.
Barbara J. Schwartz
Jun. 18th, 2016 02:17 am (UTC)
Bookmarks for blood.
Orlando's been my hometown for the past 15 years. I've donated blood sporadically, sometimes affected by the somewhat arbitrary exclusions (Yes, I've been to Mexico 3 times. Not only do I have Hep A and B vaccines onboard, but I mostly stayed at dive resorts and never had any symptoms.) I've got an appointment with the Little Red Bus tomorrow.
Jun. 18th, 2016 06:54 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for this post Jim. I'm very glad you're able to donate blood. I think what you're doing is great.
Jun. 18th, 2016 12:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you for donating. Not just for the victims of Orlando but for people like me who have had to have blood transfusions because of severe lifelong anemia. I wish I could donate myself.
Barbara J. Schwartz
Jun. 21st, 2016 12:16 am (UTC)
Donating blood
I live on the outskirts of Orlando, ran down to the main blood bank location at 10:30 am that horrible Sunday morning, saw the 7 hour line and mentally regrouped. Bought 4 cases of water for the line (many folks donated so much more water and snacks), stopped at another location to find a 4 hour wait and went home to make an appointment on line. There are so few conditions that preclude donation. I'm an early 60's boomer on the classic meds for depression, cholesterol, high blood pressure and thyroid. None of those are red flags. Best of all, our local blood bank is using a cool device which measures hemoglobin by clamping gently around your thumb for 60 seconds. No dreaded lancet!

Please do it.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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