Blood Drive

My company, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, sent out an E-mail to every employee notifying that the county is short on blood and local doctors ask for blood donations. The company organizes a blood drive on campus.

It turns out that the blood drive takes place in the building I work in. So I go. They make me fill out a one page densely written form, asking for all kinds of illnesses and drugs I took and take. It includes a question on having been or having lived abroad for longer periods of time. Sure I have, I just arrived from Switzerland. So the box gets ticked. Sign it and walk over to the nurse with the big needle in her hands.

I hand her the form and she goes "Oh. When did you live abroad and when did you arrive here?" I tell her that I arrived just about a month ago. She shakes her head and walks over to a colleague, me right behind her. The colleague confirms her suspicion. They thank me for my initiative and inform me that they don't accept European blood donations due to possible infection with Creutzfeld-Jakob, better known as the mad cow disease.

They feel sorry for me, hand me the lunch voucher and the scarf as a present. I leave the place with an odd feeling of having some inferior blood running down my veins.

P.S.: Some further investigation with the nurse reveals that this is actually a guideline issued by the FDA, the US Food and Drug Administration that oversees blood donations. I checked the FDA Internet pages and indeed found the document. Read the original reference or the document that I downloaded on February 7, 2003, from the FDA pages (, in particular the "recommendations for donor eligibility" towards the end.

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