Ethical dilemma

I have a tattoo planned. Three flying birds along my shoulder, based on an India woodblock design, coloured in brown, blue and grey, the colours worn by Mildred Cable, Eva French and Francesca French, the three women whose lives and travels I wrote about in Women of the Gobi. But here’s the snag.

About a year ago, when I was planning my tattoo, I got diagnosed with a genetic mutation called haemochromatosis. It means I’ve got too much iron in my blood, which doesn’t really affect me now but could do nasty things to my vital organs later on if I don’t reduce my iron levels. Turns out that the best way to do that is to be bled regularly, a medical procedure that I thought went out of fashion at about the same time as leeches.

So every couple of weeks I catch the 55 tram down to the blood bank and lie on a couch and get all freaked out about the needles, and have some blood pumped out of me, then I nearly faint and get a free caramel milkshake and sausage roll, and then I get back on the tram and feel crap for the rest of the day.

While my blood isn’t that good for me, it’s great for other people. If you’re O-positive and you need a blood transfusion (or you’re a vampire … mmm, Spike), it’s my extra-rich blood you’ll be wanting.

And this is where the ethical dilemma occurs.

The rules at the blood bank say that you can’t donate blood for a year after you get a tattoo. Because of my condition they’d have to keep taking my blood, but they’d have to throw it away. I’ve been putting off getting my tattoo until my iron levels come down and I’m only donating a couple of times a year, which I was told would probably be about now, but today the specialist told me I’d have to keep being bled once a month for another year or so.

Man, I really want to get that birdy tattoo, but I’m going to feel bad about all those people missing out on my delicious blood. Also, some of the nurses at the blood bank are kind of grumpy and scary, and I think they’d be pretty unimpressed with me. And I’d feel guilty about taking the caramel milkshake.

One Response to “Ethical dilemma”

  1. Narelle says:

    Riddle me this O inkless Kate. Would you feel the same guilt if you were pregnant and couldnt donate? Go…Decorate your temple (or in this case your shoulder). Dont take any crap from the Dracula Nurses, I’m pretty sure that they have milkshake envy. If they give you any lip just wear a strappy top and flap your new birdy wings at them. Besides the “Big Bad” wont care how inky you are! xx

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