I’m still a baby-saver


I am a big proponent of donating blood. I’m a coward when it comes to essentially all things medical but I can assure you that the process is painless, and not even terribly woozy-inducing. I’m up to thirty-three donations now; my only regret is that I didn’t start earlier.

During the preparation for one of my first donations – temperature, blood pressure, hemoglobin check, a whole bunch of very personal questions – while looking over my file the nurse exclaimed “Oh my goodness”. Being a bit of a Negative-Norman I immediately assumed she had found something on my chart indicating some sort of rare disorder that would cause my blood to solidify in my veins by age sixty-five or some other hideous affliction.

Being a bit of a Negative-Norman I immediately assumed she had found something on my chart indicating some sort of rare disorder that would cause my blood to solidify in my veins by age sixty-five

But no; what she told me she had found was that not only is my blood type RH O Negative, making me a Universal Donor – Everybody Loves DC or maybe Donovan Leach will re-record the Universal Soldier but switched to Donor – but I am also CMV Negative. While Hema-Quebec still tests for CMV, they do not include the result on a donor’s basic file. Recently, a nurse who was doing the preparation for my donation took a moment to dig into my file, and confirmed that I am still CMV negative – still a Baby-Saver!

My wild hoots of relief came to an abrupt end when I realized I had no idea what she was talking about. So she explained that CMV (cytomegalovirus) is a virus that about half the adults in the world have. It poses no health problem unless you are a newborn in need of a transfusion, then you’d be wanting CMV-free blood. As the New York Blood Centre puts it, CMV is a common virus found in the environment. It can be spread through body fluids, including blood transfusions. About 50% of the general population is infected. It is not a serious infection, except for people who are already in compromised health conditions, such as newborn babies or pregnant women. In these cases, the CMV virus could cause birth defects.

The fact that I am both CMV Negative and O Negative puts me in a very small group; about 1.4% of the world’s population.

Yep, I’m a baby-saver! No cape, no ability to leap tall buildings – not even short ones come to think of it, and I get claustrophobic in elevators – just about ten pints of baby-saving blood flowing through a maze of my veins.

The fact that I am both CMV Negative and O Negative puts me in a very small group; about 1.4% of the world’s population. This got me thinking, which is not always a good thing. When it comes to bees the queen is revered, cosseted in the hive, and waited on wing and stinger by a plethora of drones. So important is she to the overall well-being of the hive that her every whim is their desire.

… we baby-saving double negatives should be treated in a somewhat similar fashion. … we should be housed in large elegant mansions, with a veritable army of staff to see to our needs. Provided with only the best food and drink prepared by world-class chefs, first-rate exercise equipment, and superior sound systems.

It seems to me that we baby-saving double negatives should be treated in a somewhat similar fashion. Perhaps we should be housed in large elegant mansions, with a veritable army of staff to see to our needs. Provided with only the best food and drink prepared by world-class chefs, first-rate exercise equipment, and superior sound systems. Thus ensuring we make certain our rare but baby-saving blood is ready for harvesting every 56 days.

Clearly, this is yet another example from nature of beasts being miles ahead of humans when it comes to self-protection. Yet before you suggest I find myself a large hive in which to take up residence I should tell you I’m afraid of bees too!

(Photo Getty Images/BBC)

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