In September 2015, I was in hospital after a traumatic child-birth experience. I’d been in ICU for ten days and I was weak. A lovely nurse walked in, put a tube in my vein and pumped human blood into my arm. I felt a million times better. Getting blood was like being given a new lease on life. Suddenly I could sit up more easily, I could talk and concentrate and the world didn’t seem as blurry. I was given two pints of blood. Blood that had once pumped through the veins of a lovely and kind person who knew that donating blood could save a life.
The blood bank is currently really low! WP HAS ONLY ENOUGH FOR 3DAYS!South Africa needs your blood! Please donate blood! Do your part, Save a life! #MandelaDay2016 Click To Tweet
Knowing how important reserves are, today I posted a call on my Facebook page for friends to go an donate blood.
A friend responded that he would love to donate blood but because of his sexual orientation, he was not legally allowed to do so in this country. I was shocked. Surely in a country with the most progressive constitution in the world that can’t be correct. So I decided to do some investigating for myself.
I went onto the South African National Blood Service website and looked up “Am I eligible”. The requirements seem pretty straight forward.
Before donating blood, a donor must be:
Weighing at least 50kg or more;Between 16 and 65 of age;
In good health;
Leading a sexually safe lifestyle; and
Consider your blood safe for transfusion to a patient.
Nothing anywhere that states you must be Heterosexual. SO… I searched “gay” and nothing. Then I tried “homosexual” and again nothing. So I decided to call them.
This was the conversation
Me: Hello, I’d like to know if you can donate blood if you’re gay?
Noreen: Um, what do you mean?
Me: If you are gay, can you donate blood?
Noreen: Do you mean if you’re in a relationship with a man – that kind of gay?
Me: * thinks to myself, um no, if I was in a relationship with a man then that would not make me gay but I know where she’s going with that so okay* Yes, THAT kind of gay.
Noreen: Ma’am please hold on I will find out for you.
after 2 minutes she returns
Noreen: Ma’am, you need to speak to “someone higher than her” and we don’t operate in the Western Cape so please call 021 507 6300 and ask them, they can help you.
Me: Noreen, when you asked me to hold on, did your supervisor tell you that you can’t answer that question?
Noreen: Yes ma’am.
So I called the number I was given for the Western Cape Blood Transfusion and thankfully and much to my relief, it turns out that anyone in South African can donate. The law was changed in 2014, which wasn’t all that long ago but now you know… all blood is welcome in this country.
It’s a pity the answer given to me on the phone the first time around wasn’t what I got after talking to THREE people before I could actually get an answer.
Thanks very much to Sister Sims who actually gave me a straight answer.
“As long as you’re sexually safe, we don’t care who you choose to sleep with”
If you’d like to donate blood, please do so! You could save a life!
WP blood transfusion Service – Check out their website WPBLOOD.org.za for more information!