Sunday, 15 July 2012

I'm mad as a cow because I can't donate

Actually, there is no such idiom `as mad as a cow'... and I'm not really mad (as in angry, not insane). Just disappointed and a bit puzzled. But I'll explain what I mean shortly...

Yesterday and today, there is a nationwide blood donation drive being organised by the alumni association of MRSM, together with the assistance of AEON Jusco and the various hospitals. It is the 6th annual campaign and they hold it a few weeks before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan. I was at Jusco Tebrau City yesterday morning, with the intention of giving a pint of my blood. I am not a regular blood donor... the last time I did so was in 2007 during a similar campaign.

For those of you who have never donated blood before, the process of giving up a bit of that precious liquid is not just simply offering your arm to be pricked with a needle, see the red stuff flow down a tube and into a plastic bag. You would have to first fill up a form containing a zillion questions where you tick boxes to indicate `Yes' or `No'. A nurse would do a teenie-weenie jab on the tip of your middle finger to extract a drop of blood, from which she would determine your blood type.

You would take the form to the doctor on duty who then interviews you based on the answers you have given. The questions on the form are of course, to determine your level of health and suitability as a donor. Since lives would be at stake, you'd better answer all questions truthfully, no matter how embarrassing some of the questions might be. There was this question that asks whether you had paid for sex in the last 6 months... and if you had ticked the `Yes' box, then you better forget about donating. I guess the same would apply if you got paid for sex too.

There was also this question about whether you have visited or stayed in the United Kingdom for a least six months from 1979 to 1990. I ticked `Yes'. The young doctor asked me why I was there. I said I was a student for nearly 5 years. I queried back, what's the significance? He couldn't answer me but looked towards another senior doctor for help.

The senior doctor said that it has something to do with the Mad Cow Disease. Goodness me! That was so many years ago. The epidemic in the UK was in 1987... I had left the country a few years before that. Bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), that's the official medical term. It's a bit strange that the health authorities believe that I may carry the infectious agent after all this time. I told the doctor that I had previously donated blood five years ago with no problems. She replied that the issue was not considered back then. Unfortunately today, they can't take my blood. Yeah, right...

So now I am no longer acceptable as a blood donor. As long as the Health Ministry believes that there is a threat of UK residents of that period carrying a risk of the BSE agent in their blood, until then I won't be able to donate my blood. Bummer.

Anyway, the day was not a total loss. The hospital representatives at the event were also promoting organ transplant pledges. I took the opportunity to pledge the donation of some of my organs in case of my demise. I offer my eyes (cornea) and kidneys to be shared with any person in need at some future time.


book seller said...

i did enjoy the blood donor since last few month ago..dah nak masuk 3 kali..selalunya lepas habis that time punya donor, tak sabar tunggu for the proud to do so..and for the organ too..willing to do that..insyaallah.. :)

simpati sebab they dont accept u anymore..but surely, they can do something about it..kalau tak kenapa lima tahun dulu boleh?..

liyas said...

Dear Sir,
We also can donate the coming Ramadhan AlMubarak

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the club all ye whose blood is not clean enough even after 2 decades. Tak nak sudah. Dang.

ulat said...

Hahaha, I was told by the nurses that I am not fit to donate blood for fear that I carry the mad cow disease strain. This is despite my telling them that I was a vegetarian all the 5 years I was in the UK!

Welcome to the club bro!


Oldstock said...

Book seller,

I started donating blood more than 10 years ago. I've done it 3 or 4 times now, not as regular as I would like to. This time, it seems that they don't want to take a risk. What a pity.

Their rejection gives rise to many questions. If they don't want my blood now, wouldn't it be risky to use the blood I had donated previously? Does it mean that the BSE strain cannot be detected in our blood?

I need to find someone who can help me with these questions.

Oldstock said...

Saudara Liyas,

Thank you for highlighting the link. Insyaallah akan diusahakan.

Oldstock said...

Anon @ 23.10,

Orang tak nak, takpe lah... kita derma hok yg lain...

Oldstock said...


Seems like you and I are in the same boat. But I still believe that the National Blood Centre should provide more explanation or literature on the subject. Cara doktor tu explain pada saya tidak begitu memuaskan.

book seller said...

ya..perlu penjelasan ni..kenapa sebelum ni boleh, dan kenapa sekarang tak boleh..pihak berwajib perlu melakukan sesuatu..

Oldstock said...

Book seller,

You dah berhenti blogging ke?

doc said...

we are all in the boat. we want to donate but the health authorities here aren't sure if "our" blood is safe, hence the blanket rule prohibiting those who have resided in the UK around 1986-1996.

they think the mad cow virus, aka CJD virus, remain in the body as prions for many years & then may flare up 10-20 years later. until such time that they can detect the presence of prions by whatever tests, the safest option is the blanket rule.

of course, that also doesn't explain why vegetarians are also discriminated. i wrote about this in 2008:

Oldstock said...

Thanks Doc, for the explanation. But it does give rise to more questions than answers.

Does it mean that you and I (plus the thousands who were in UK) are at risk? What about the blood I have previously donated? If my blood is risky, then wouldn't my other organs carry some risk too (i.e. I shouldn't be donating my organs as well)?

Anyway, to me, the very least that the blood bank can do is provide some form of literature or information access to potential donors. It doesn't seem right to have a young doctor stare back at you with a blank face when we ask why we can't be donors.

You take care now , Doc. As you mentioned in your post, if you see me writing nonsense... then you'll know what's the cause :-)