Saturday, April 4, 2020

Day 15: Donating Blood during Corona times

This article is part of The 100 Days Offensive.

I started donating blood as a student. Unluckily I didn't keep up with it after University until last year. Currently I try to be regular donor with my 10th donation coming up in six weeks.

My blood goes to the UKSH in Kiel. The reason for this is pretty simple. They are the only ones I found to be accepting blood on a Saturday. Furthermore they are strategically placed in a large, easy to reach mall. For working people that is a huge advantage. Since last year, they also have a bicycle highway leading directly to their front door. That reduces my time to get there by more than 25% while circumventing all traffic jams toward the mall.

When my time came up in February, Corona was not a huge topic yet. Unluckily I was in no shape to give my blood as I was battling with a cold at that time and was taking antibiotics. Accordingly I emailed the department of transfusion medicine on the time I should wait before the next donation. They gave me timeout of 4 weeks.

Much has happened during that time, but that has already been covered in my blog. With the end of the timeout arriving today, I called yesterday the station to see if the donations would still be ongoing. It was a good thing to call. As I learned you can only donate during pre-arranged slots. Luckily there was a slot today and my sales tongue even manage to expand it to two slots as I try to pull a friend to come with me. The only disadvantage was that my slot was at 8:53 a.m. which is pretty early for me on a Saturday. But I had to smile at the very German precision on the time specified.

One change Corona has brought us is the online questionnaire. Every donor has to complete it on every donation. I had already asked to put it online in the past, but the blood donation center disliked the idea. With the current situation, they now ask every donor to arrive with a completed questionnaire. You still have to print it, but you can complete it on your PC. I am no friend of all those questions asked, they are pretty invasive and include details about your sex live.

The next change becomes obvious when you arrive at the donation center. You no longer get a number and wait for it to be called. Instead (as you have a pre-arranged slot) they just call you up by name. The chairs in the waiting area are spaced further apart than previously and with the slot based system, they avoid crowding the waiting room.

From there on, the process is pretty unchanged. My impression is that they removed some couches to gain space for additional distancing. If not everyone had been wearing masks, it would have been business as usual. I asked the staff if the level of donations has decreased with the ongoing crisis. This was denied. Though the maximum capacity has decreased somewhat, with the slot system they achieve a more even distribution and manage to get the same number of donations.

Something I like at the donation center is the fact that you receive a good breakfast in addition to 20 Euros. I half expected the breakfast to have fallen victim to the current times but it was there as usual.

So overall I can give the good news that Corona does currently not impede the blood supply.

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