Donors and dogs

I went with some friends to donate blood on Saturday and I can say without hesitation that it was the sketchiest medical experience I've ever encountered. A friend is convinced we've donated blood to the black market and based on what we saw, it could appear to be that way (although I do believe the operation they were running was legitimate).

First of all, we were told to report to 5th and Pike Street in downtown Seattle. This is the heart of downtown and we expected their trademark Bloodmobile to be parked on the street. We met up at 5th and Pike and wandered around for a bit – no Bloodmobile. No signs either. Nothing to signify that a blood drive would be occurring at all. One of the buildings at 5th and Pike currently houses the BODIES Exhibit, which is a museum-type exhibition about the human body – featuring actual human bodies. We approached their ticket booth hoping someone could perhaps point us in the right direction. As we got closer to the booth, we started to see flyers inside the booth that said there was indeed a blood drive on January 23 but gave no instruction as to where it was located, but that if you registered and donated then you would receive a discount on a ticket to the BODIES Exhibit. We asked a few employees about the blood drive but couldn’t get any definite information until someone ushered us inside the building and said the donation center was downstairs. Downstairs? In the basement of an exhibition center featuring real but dead human bodies? Something about this just doesn’t feel quite right…

At this point we had about 12-13 of us waiting for further instructions and corralled inside the entry to the BODIES Exhibit. We could look in and see some of the exhibits – one of the bodies held a tennis racquet and was tossing up a tennis ball as if to serve. Finally, a representative from the Puget Sound Blood Center approached us and said that they only had four beds and weren’t equipped to handle such a large group so late in the afternoon. They said they could take four of us immediately but the rest of the group would have to visit one of their other donation centers. We decided that Luke, Julia, Melanie and I would stay and the rest would find another place to donate.

We followed the representative through part of the exhibit, down a flight of stairs and through a concrete and black curtain lined hallway. There were others in line in front of us, so we had a moment to chat with each other and say things like “Where are we?? This does not seem right… definitely the sketchiest blood donation place I’ve ever been to!” Luke and I peered around the corner of the hallway into the room where everything was set up, and saw a dog laying on the floor. A dog? In a blood donation center? We later learned that he was a service dog of one of the employees, but still. Isn’t that some kind of health code violation? Then the poor nurse couldn’t find my vein and I had to endure a needle rummaging around inside my arm (although, to be honest, this has happened before and Saturday’s experience didn’t even compare to the bruising I experienced from my prior encounter with the needle). When Melanie and I had finished, we had been there for a full three hours and were definitely ready to get out of the dingy, concrete, fluorescent-lit basement and into the sunlight outside. I won’t be giving blood again any time soon (at least for 56 days) but you can sure bet it will be in an actual clinic next time!

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