Happens All The Bloody Time

, , , , | Healthy | October 5, 2019

(I donate blood about every two months, provided that I’m healthy enough to do so. One thing the blood bank screens for is anemia: my hematocrit has to be 38 or higher to donate and not become anemic from it. Hematocrit in the low 30s is anemic; around mid-20s you’d probably need a transfusion yourself. But some time in the last eight weeks, the blood bank switched to testing hemoglobin instead, the minimum donation number for which is 12.5. I didn’t know it was a new test.)

Phlebotomist: “Okay, your temperature, blood pressure, and pulse look good. Let’s test your iron.” *pricks my finger, takes a few drops of blood, and puts them in the tester* “You’re testing at 12.6.”

Me: “My hematocrit is 12.6? Should I go to the hospital?”

Phlebotomist: “What? Why? Oh! No, your hemoglobin is 12.6, which for our purposes is equivalent to a 39 hematocrit. You’re fine to donate. If you had a 12.6 hematocrit, you’d be unconscious at least. I’d be calling an ambulance… or a hearse.”

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