Daughter Rachael and I went to the UCLA Ackerman Donation Center today and gave blood. We had both read that all the hospitals in LA are badly in need of blood for patients so we decided to do our part.
The people at Ackerman could not have been nicer. They said they were so pleased that we had taken the time to come in and help. They were all gloved, robed and masked for the entire time we were there (we had our own masks on when we came in. Thanks, Aunt Holly.) and they disinfected the chairs after each donor was finished. There were a handful of other donors there who looked as if they were UCLA students. Every donor arrived in his/her mask and kept it on except when asked to drink water and orange juice.
The fellow who took my vital signs made me glad that I had come. He told me that my blood pressure was the best he’d seen all day and that my iron count at 13.5 was excellent. “I want that body of yours, ” he said. “You’re clearly doing something right.” Of course, I know I’m not the only person he’s said that to, but I will admit, it brightened my day.
We also swapped stories about what it’s been like with Covid-19 in the picture. He told me that he was taking his son to the airport in mid-January for a trip to see his grandfather in China. News reports were out about Wuhan, but the boy was going to a city that was far from that area of China. En route to the airport, his son received a text that his hotel reservation had been cancelled. He shrugged. “I surely can find another hotel.” Then another text arrived announcing that his connecting flight from Shanghai to Northern China had also been cancelled. His dad told him then, “We’re going home now.” Apparently, his son, who had planned this trip months ago, protested, but his dad (the fellow I was talking to) just turned the car around. Turns out the Chinese government shut down the whole country the next day. Obviously, both the dad and the son (and their entire family) were relieved their boy didn’t get on that plane.
I also talked to the nurse who was drawing my blood. When I asked her how she was doing, she said, “I just feel strange. Everything is so odd right now. I just can’t believe the whole world has stopped.”
I told her that I hadn’t truly computed the scale of the shutdown until just last night when I saw news coverage of major cities and religious sites on every continent completely empty of people. A worldwide quarantine has been a tough concept for me to get my mind around.
Another fellow who worked there asked me if I thought things were going to get worse soon. When I nodded, he said, “I think next month is going to be bad.”
I sensed those folks working at the donation center were happy to have someone to talk to for just a few minutes. I was glad they were so open. It was nice to have that human connection. I left feeling as though I had received more than I’d given. Rachael and I plan to return in two months when we are again eligible to donate.
Stay well, everybody. This might go on for a while.
Here are a couple of photos of our adventure: