I’m not one for jewelry, but I do have a single pin I wear on occasion. It’s the most expensive item I’ve ever gotten, and I paid dearly for it. But it didn’t cost me a cent.
It’s a pin from the American Red Cross. I got it when I had donated my sixth gallon of blood.
I’ve never given one red cent to the Red Cross; I have some serious issues with them. For one, they have not pushed the International Red Cross to recognize the Israeli Red Cross, the Magen David Adom. For another, they’ve wasted too much cash and made too many political mis-steps to suit me. But I’ve always been proud of my donations of blood (O+, a very popular type).
That being said, I noticed this story about a UNH student leader trying to prevent the Red Cross from coming on campus for blood drives. According to Nicholas Christiansen, he objects to the Red Cross refusing donations from sexually active gay men.
Apparently the Red Cross has been listening to Harvard president Lawrence Summers, and letting reality sway its decisions. The biggest danger in blood transfusions is blood-borne diseases. Gay men have the highest rate of those diseases, well above the statistics for other groups. And while the Red Cross does test and screen donations, but 1) it’s expensive, and 2) no tests are perfect.
Young Mr. Christiansen is certainly free to make as many political statements he wants. But he has no right to endanger the lives of blood recipients. And when the facts change, he’s welcome.to argue for the Red Cross to change their rules. But I hope to hell the UNH Student Senate tells him to get stuffed.