Photo by figleaf (hey, that's me!). Posted under a Creative Commons license.
So the other day I gave blood, as I try to do regularly because even if I'll never end up needing blood or blood products to save my life other people frequently do.
And since I've been donating blood for a very long time I've noticed over time how the screening questions have evolved. Mostly by getting a lot longer and a lot more detailed.
And over time reading through the checklist gets to be a bit like reading the rings on an old tree or looking at stamps on an old steamer trunk or passport. This question about sharing needles reminds us, of course, of the HIV epidemic. That question about living in England or Europe since the 1980s reminds us of Mad Cow disease. Another about immigrating or having lived in Southeast Asia is an obscure clue about residual risk of Hansen's disease (a.k.a. leprosy.)
Other clues remind us of what we've learned over time about previously well-known illnesses and, sometimes, indicates tremendous advances in medical technology over the years. Transplantation of dura matter? We weren't always able to transplant brain tissue. That's kind of cool even if it too brings with it a possible risk to subsequent blood recipients of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
And then, sometimes, there are indicators of risk that the deliverers of blood and blood products have to worry about that don't really make it into the rest of society. Even though it's kind of important.
So that's why I wanted to call out a question that showed up relatively recently in the "in the last 12 months have you..." section of the questionaire: have you "Been in juvenile detention, lockup, jail, or prison for more than 72 hours?"
Gee, I wonder why that would be in there?
I really wonder what could happen to someone in less than three days in jail, lockup, or juvenile detention that might put them at risk for donating blood?