Ok, so maybe the title is a bit dramatic.
My company sponsored a blood drive today, and I had signed up to donate, in honor of my adorable niece Meaghan. The last time I donated was in 2005.
I went down and filled out the questionnaire, had to run back to my office to find my donor card and some ID, had a chat with the nurse registering me about the fact I was born in the US (a question on the form), and went in to see the doctor.
"So," he said, in a way I thought a tad condescending, "anything you want to tell me?"
As if I was hiding something. I had filled out my form thoroughly, thank you very much, but he hadn't even looked at it.
"Well," I said, "I indicated on the form that I had surgery to correct a heart murmur in 2009."
"In 2009?" he said, surprised. I wasn't sure if the year surprised him, or the heart surgery.
I say 'heart surgery' all casually, when in fact my atrial septal defect was repaired in an hour by going through a vein in my groin. It was done in a private hospital very well respected for cardiac issues, I had a private room, was released the next day and paid not a cent for any of it. (Vive la France!) It's not like I had open heart surgery or anything.
"Yes," I replied politely but firmly, "in 2009 I had my atrial septal defect corrected."
"Well," he said, taking my form and stacking it, as if it was a pile of important papers,"I regret to inform you that you will never again be able to donate blood."
He didn't seem too regretful. He was downright thrilled to tell me this. I must have been his only refusal case for the morning.
"Really?" I said, incredulous. "Why is that?"
"Well, when they've gone and messed with your heart," he said dramatically, "and torn you open to get to it," at this, he gestured at my chest, miming ripping it open, "it's just too risky."
"I didn't have open heart surgery," I replied, "it was repaired through a vein in my groin."
"Well, all the same," he said, "it would be too dangerous for you."
At that, I just wanted out of there as fast as possible. I didn't want to ask what was so dangerous, I didn't want to point out that my cardiologist had already approved me to go scuba diving a year after the operation, I didn't want to say how alarmist and silly I thought he was being.
"That's too bad," I said, "I wanted to donate in honor of my niece who had leukemia and received many blood transfusions during her treatment."
"How old is she?" he asked. I don't know why he acted like he cared.
"She's almost five," I said.
"Sad stuff," he said, typing into his computer atrial septal defect 2009 with satisfaction.
I grabbed my purse, wished him a good day and got the fuck out of there as quick as I could.
I sort of felt like crying, but not really. I knew he was being alarmist. I suppose I felt unfairly rejected. I don't deal well with that.
Then, I looked it up on the Red Cross Website : Blood donation WITH a heart murmur defect is "...acceptable if you have a heart murmur as long as you have been medically evaluated and treated and have not had symptoms in the last 6 months, and have no restrictions on your normal activities."
I no longer have one.
But maybe I'm just mad because I didn't get to spend 30 minutes reading my book lying down. I missed my metro stop TWICE last night because I was so absorbed.
Or maybe I was mad because I was looking forward to that chocolate croissant.