When I lived in the United States, I donated blood several times a year. I have O negative blood which makes me a universal donor. That means that my blood can be given to anyone, regardless of their blood type. It is especially useful in emergency situations when there isn’t time to determine the blood type of the patient. For that reason, the blood bank back home would call me whenever I was eligible to donate again and beg me to come in.
The other day, I came across a post on Facebook from the blood bank at the General Hospital in Playa del Carmen asking for people to donate. The blood bank is about 30 minutes from the condo; however, I decided to stop by and donate while we were in Playa on other business.
We arrived around 11 a.m. and made contact with the nurse at the desk of the blood bank. She advised us that I had arrived too late to donate blood and that I would have to return another day. She said that they only accept blood donations between the hours of 7:00 A.M – 9:30 A.M.
The nurse was very friendly and she carefully explained all of the requirements to donate. As she spoke, my gaze kept turning to the group of employees sitting around talking. I caught myself wondering what they did each day after 9:30 A.M.
I have donated blood for over 25 years and I always thought that the health and age requirements were fairly universal. Although some of the requirements in Mexico were familiar, there were a few that took me by surprise:
- No one over age 65
- You must fast for 4-8 hours prior to donating, and not have eaten any greasy foods before that
- No alcohol for two days prior
- No one with high cholesterol
We took our list of requirements home with us and prepared to return bright and early the following Tuesday .
We returned to the blood bank at 8:10 A.M. and the waiting area was full of people.
The same nurse from the other day was seated behind the desk. She greeted us with a big smile and proceeded to ask me the list of questions to determine if I was eligible to donate.
One thing that took me by surprise is that she asked very detailed questions about everything that I ate the day prior. This was to make sure that nothing was too greasy. In the U.S., they never bothered to ask me about my diet prior to giving blood.
I passed my initial screening and she told me to have a seat until my name was called. After about 20 minutes of waiting, Linda went up to the desk and asked the nurse how long we could expect to wait. The nurse replied that it would be about another hour and a half to two hours.
Although I have learned to be a much more patient person since moving to Mexico, I have not yet reached the level required to wait two hours to donate blood. We advised the nurse that we were unable to wait that long and left.
Let’s Wrap This Up
When I looked online to see if there were any other blood banks in the area – and there are not – I came across a recent newspaper article about the blood bank in Playa. The article said that the blood bank was trying to boost donations through an Internet campaign and by visiting universities. It also pointed out that O negative blood was difficult to find.
I joked with Linda that all of the people with O negative blood must be either too impatient or too busy to wait two hours to donate.
Seriously though, this incident did get me thinking that this area could benefit greatly from blood mobiles. For those of you who are looking for a cause to keep you busy in retirement, this would be a very worthy one.
By the way, I have not given up on donating blood. I plan to be at the hospital before the crack of dawn sometime next week, to be the first in line. Even if I am unsuccessful – yet again, I will at least be able to say I tried.