Heart's Blood

When I was in jail, I gave a pint of blood to get ten days off my sentence. This was some time ago, and they don't take such a cavalier attitude toward bodily fluids anymore. But they did then.

Algis Budrys, an author whose work I admire, admitted in the colophon to one of his books that he was an eleven gallon blood donor. Of course, he was my senior and got to donate during the Korean War, when they'd gladly bleed you white if you'd sit still for it. Nowadays, you can only donate every two months and not more than five times a year.

Plus, you've got to weigh at least as much as a bag of cement. Blood pressure, iron, and of course you've got to be clean as a hound's tooth. If you ever want to meet a date who can prove in writing that they're safe as rain, go to the blood bank.

Some people are afraid to donate because they think that they've only got a certain amount of blood, like they've only got so many fingers and toes, and that they need it all. Some people are afraid of needles. I'm afraid of not being a decent person. I get around the five times a year problem by being a pheresis donor, which they let you do more often. I'm up to seven gallons, now, and closing in on Algis Budrys. He got a head start, but I'm still in the running.

May 25, 1994

In connection with the Berkeley Free Speech Movement of 1964, I was arrested for disturbing the peace, trespassing and resisting arrest; convicted of the first two, I was sentenced to sixty days in the Alameda county jail. For a full account of this and related events, I direct the interested reader to my 1993 book "The Free Speech Movement: Coming of Age in the 1960s", Ten Speed Press, Berkeley.

Science fiction writer Algis Budrys (1931 - ) is the author, among other books, of "Who" (1958).

Platelet aphresis, an abbreviation of the medical term cytapheresis, is done with a device that harvests the platelets, returning unneeded components to the donor. The procedure is time consuming, but provides enough platelets for a transfusion to an adult. Platelets promote blood coagulation.