When I was seventeen and living in Edmonton, I took myself down to the Canadian Blood Services building to give all the blood I could. There, a nurse told me I was in rare possession of Type O Negative Blood.
I was a ‘Universal Donor.’
My blood was the most sought after.
I could give to anybody. Save all the people!
I had the very elixir of life, running through my veins. It was, like, my superpower.
I can’t overstate how superior this information made me feel.
We both raised our fists and whispered, “Yay!” And then the nurse frowned.
“Yes, I was born there in ’86 and emigrated to Canada in 1991.”
“I’m so sorry, Katie. We don’t want your dirty Brit blood.” (I might be paraphrasing)
Turns out, my better-than-yours blood could potentially be infected with Mad Cow Disease, the most aptly named condition for whatever the hell is wrong with me. The only way to find out was to cut open my brain and look inside.
I could try in seven years, she said, and I could still have a free cookie. I didn’t take a free cookie. I didn’t deserve a free cookie.
But exactly seven years later, I called Canadian Blood Services again.
“How can I help you?”
“Yes, hi, hello. I’d like to speak with someone about donating my O Negative blood. I’m a very rare and extremely special Universal Donor.”
“Oh golly, oh gosh, it’s finally happening! Yes ma’am, right away ma’am, please stay on the line ma’am.”
Over the telephone, I answered the same questioner and again, there was a pause.
“You lived in – ”
“Yes, I lived in England in the 80’s but last time the nurse said I just had to wait seven years…”
“No, I’m sorry,” she said, “You will never donate blood in Canada.”
Not you, nor your children, nor your children’s children!
Just kidding, they’re probably eligible, but it was the most finite rejection of my life.
But then, yesterday, there was a call put out for bone marrow donation. A little local girl urgently needs a super hero. Here’s what I learned:
Alex is eleven years old but has only been well enough to make one morning of Grade Six this year.
She has a mom and a dad and a sister who loves her.
Until this June, she was just a regular, healthy kid who loves animals and liked to swim and probably left those soaking wet swim towels in her backpack by the door until her mom smelled mildew in the entry way (I’m assuming).
Because she is so, so like my child.
She is so, so like yours.
And when I think about all we’re willing to do to bring children into the world,
How could we not do half that to keep them in it?
Bone marrow isn’t blood, I thought. I could give that! And even if I didn’t match with Alex, I would still match with someone, right? I immediately navigated to the Canadian Blood Services page to register… and quickly learned I still was ineligible.
As are a bunch of people.
In fact, if you can pass this online quiz, you’re really super special.
You’re a rarity.
You have the elixir of life.
And kids like Alex are really, really counting on your super power.
So please, take the quiz.
Get in touch with Canadian Blood Services.
Check out the Bone Marrow Drive that’s being held for her in Edmonton at MacEwan University, Nov. 28th (it’s just a cheek swab). They especially need people who are between the ages of 17-35 and are of Russian, English, Polish, or Ukrainian descent. Male blood, with its fewer antibodies than female blood, could prove especially helpful.
All you have to do is the first right thing, and then the next right thing.
One step at a time.
Do what my dirty cow blood can’t do and then tell me about it.
I will call you superior and sing your praises.
You will be the Jesus of blood donation.
You might keep another’s family whole.
Another’s heart whole.
From Pasinchnyk family friend, Christine:
“There was a drive in St. Albert yesterday that collected 326 swab kits. A little closer to a match for Alex.
The All in for Alex drive is moving on to MacEwan University on Tuesday, November 28, 2017