A Bloody Mess
Today I experienced donating blood for the first time. On Monday, I received an e-mail from the Forensic Science listserv from school that blood was needed for Collaborative Testing Services. This is a company that does DNA profiling and serology certification tests. Those who want to go into those fields must pass a certification test, and thus they need blood in order to perform said tests. Normally I probably wouldn’t have done it, except they offered a $50 stipend to do so. So of course, being the starving graduate student I am, I hopped at the chance.
In order to donate my blood, I needed to go to the INova Blood Donation Center in Annandale. Originally, I thought the center was in the hospital, and was very confused when I couldn’t find it. After asking the information desk clerk, I learned that it was in a facility near the hospital, but she wasn’t exactly sure where (thanks for the “information”). After walking back to my car, I realized that I was about a block away from the center.
Even though I had a 9 o’clock appointment, I arrived at about 9:30 at the center. I was instructed by the Collaborative Testing Service that I needed to meet someone named Justin in the waiting room before I gave my blood. This was so he could get my information and give me my money.
While in the waiting room, a man who looked and acted like he was probably taking anti-psychotic medication decided to strike up a conversation with me. Since I was wearing my Virginia Tech alumni t-shirt, he decided to tell me all about how his brother Bob graduated from Virginia Tech and how Tech was his favorite football team. I didn’t really know how to respond because I don’t really follow Tech’s football team very closely. So, I just smiled and nodded and tried to pretend that I was busy concentrating on my donor questionnaire.
Later, as I was in the chair giving blood, he took up the seat next to me and began awkward conversations about ghosts, bigfoot, yeti, and the Bermuda triangle with the workers. As I was avoiding eye contact with him I learned that he was on medication for schizophrenia. I guess my hunch was correct.
After I was done giving blood, I got to sit in the refreshment area for a few minutes munching on cookies and drinking root beer. In the refreshment area was a table with prepackaged goodies. It was here that I noticed many people were hoarding the goodies. They would take three or four at a time, stuff them into their pockets and walk off. There was actually one guy that took about four, walked into the waiting room, and came back for four more. He hadn’t actually given his blood yet either. I was tempted to do the same, but I didn’t want to look tacky. I wonder how many people come to give blood just for the cookies. I mean I just came for the money, so I guess I’m not all that different.
The whole idea of getting paid for giving blood made me realize that maybe I should be doing this voluntarily instead. That way the blood can actually go to someone who really needs it, not just someone passing a certification exam. The next time I can donate is in November. I think I’ll do it again then. Pro bono this time.