Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Get People to Give Blood

In his delightful memoir, A Year in Provence, English author Peter Mayle tells how he and his wife gave blood in their village to help a desperately ill child. I have written in this space on my experiences giving blood to the Red Cross where I live. If the Red Cross followed the French model—at least the way they do in the town of Gordes—they'd probably get a lot more donors:
In England, the reward for a bagful of blood is a cup of tea and a biscuit. But here, after being disconnected from our tubes, we were shown to a long table manned by volunteer waiters. What would we like? Coffee, chocolate, croissants, brioches, sandwiches of ham or garlic sausage, mugs of red or rosé wine? Eat up! Drink up! Replace those corpuscles! The stomach must be served! A young male nurse was hard at work with a corkscrew, and the supervising doctor in his long white coat wished us all bon appétit. If the steadily growing pile of empty [wine] bottles behind the bar was anything to go by, the appeal for blood was an undoubted success, both clinically and socially.

Some time later, we received through the post our copy of Le Globule, the official magazine for the blood donors. Hundreds of liters had been collected that morning in Gordes, but the other statistic that interested me—the number of liters that had been drunk—was nowhere to be found, a tribute to medical discretion.

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