Ok, this story is too good not to be told, even though it is not my personal story. A friend of mine on the island shared this experience with me.
There is a young man on the island who was in desperate need of blood and the call went out for blood donors. My friend, Debbie, is O- which makes her a universal donor, so she drove to Woods Clinic in Coxen Hole to help out. When she arrived, a couple of young guys who were just hanging around offered to watch her car for her. She declined their offer and instead paid the equivalent of 75 cents to park in a guarded lot across the street.
When she entered the clinic, there were already a lot of people waiting to donate blood. The island does not have a blood bank, so when the need for blood arises, a call goes out via word of mouth and the internet. Fortunately, many generous people responded. There were so many people waiting at the clinic that one of the women handling donors suggested that several people come with her to the public hospital a short distance away, including those who needed to be typed. Debbie agreed to go and even drove the woman there in her car and then had to repark (parking is often a challenge in Coxen Hole, no parking allowed on the streets and very few lots available).
I have not been in this hospital, but from what I've been told, it is an interesting adventure where you may have to supply your own sheets and food, and where supplies, staff, and bathrooms are in short supply.
Debbie and the others were led directly into the lab where she noted that the equipment appeared dated and well used. She was rather alarmed to note that the tubes used to collect the blood appeared very well used, obviously not used one time and discarded as in the U.S., and she wondered how thoroughly they had been sanitized. When the woman in charge discovered that there were NO bags in which to collect the blood, she decided that they would have to go back to the clinic and wait their turn. Debbie was relieved to hear that.
Back to the clinic, once again moving her car and reparking. After 3 of the female donors (islanders) had been found to be too anemic to donate, it was decided that they would only take blood from the men. Many of these men did not know their blood type and would first need to go over to the hospital to be typed. Debbie knew hers and knew that she was a universal donor and healthy, but they wanted only male donors. And just to make it more interesting, one of the women drawing blood decided that she didn't feel well and needed to go home right then, leaving the remaining employee to do all the draws. There were probably 40 people waiting. Debbie left after spending two hours for nothing. She did offer some suggestions to the woman who was running the show, tips for being better organized and handling the crowd.
Eventually enough blood was collected (hopefully of the right type and healthy), the young man was transfused, stabilized and moved to a hospital on the mainland. He's doing fine.
We hope we never need blood while here, but it is nice to know that there are so many people willing to donate. Also nice to know that Debbie and I share a blood type.