Saturday, December 19, 2009

take it straight

take it straight
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
That strange frothy microbrewed substance in the IV bag that looks like a nice small-batch wheat beer? That's my plasma.

This is the second batch; the first batch had already been returned to me, along with saline, in an icy transfusion after the blood center extracted a concentrated dose of red blood cells from what I gave them. How much was that? I got *two* "be kind to me I gave blood stickers" over the usual one. So two pints, but they gave me all the leftovers back. At the end of the hour the phlebotomist handed me a form to sign saying: "sorry I forgot about this before."

The consent form detailed the strange side effects I was already feeling -- weird tingling in my lips; severe chills; nausea -- and states at the very last: "Long term side-effects from the depletion of lymphocytes are unknown." That would be my white blood cells; the ones that fight infection.


Also in the small print: a prohibition against donating blood if you are a man who has had sexual contact with a man anytime since 1977. This question comes up some time after one is queried about sexual contact with an individual who is HIV positive, male or female.

So basically gay men are out, just because they're gay, unless I'm reading that wrong.

It may not be marriage, but it's still discrimination, and it made me even more curious to read Martha Nussbaum's pending release on the politics of revulsion in which she theorizes that much of the antagonism to gay marriage is rooted in homophobic disgust over queer sexuality.

I want to see where she goes with that and whether she draws a parallel between sexual discrimination and our sorry history of racial segregation.

Separate drinking fountains come to mind.

From Disgust to Humanity by Martha Nussbaum


I, Rodius said...

I often wonder about that myself when going through the list of questions: if each pint donated is tested, then why do they eliminate an entire segment of the population from donating at all? I always imagine there's some complex statistical, actuarial calculations going on, balancing risk against decreased supply, but maybe not.

I, Rodius said...

They're also anti-prostitute, but I suppose that's harder to get behind as a civil rights issue.

bd said...

I always took that as proper prudence. You read stories of infected blood being transferred. Looking foward to the Nussbaum review.

suttonhoo said...

Yeah: I'd like to see those actuarial tables. There may be something interesting in there.

The prostitution population makes sense because high-risk comes with the job; as does screening folks who use needles for illegal drugs; and while there are certainly gay men who engage in risky sexual behaviors (as do some straight men and women), is it fair to assume the entire population does? Number of sexual partners would probably have gotten at the probability a little more precisely, but that's far too invasive a question to ask for a blood donation.

I suspect the screen is more political than statistical -- there's a fear factor in the public mind that links gay w/ AIDS; the public is reassured that the blood supply is free from AIDS if it's free from gays.

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