Ethical for me to lie to donate blood?

Okay, before anybody goes ballistic on me, let me clarify that I’m asking only about my own particular case here, and not about the ethics generally of lying to the Red Cross. So anyway, I note that there’s an office blood drive happening, so I go onto the Red Cross website to see if I’m eligible, since I’ve never given blood before. And I find that I’m not, the reason being that I have lived in Niger at some point subsequent to 1977. It seems that there’s this rare subtype of the HIV virus, type O, which is undetectable by any test, and which is present in certain countries of West Africa.

But here’s the thing – the chances that I have the virus are basically nil. In the six months I was in Niger (and this is 20 years ago now) I was as abstemious as if I had taken holy orders, I never went to the doctor or had so much as a shot, I avoided all participation in kickboxing, vampirism, and phlebotomy, took no blood oaths, scrawled no treasure maps in my own or anyone else’s blood, etc. I’m clean, in a word.

So what do I do here? Lie and give blood, or take the honest route and cop out?

Yes, the Red Cross guidelines might need updating.

No, it is not ethical to lie about your medical history. Even if you don’t think it’s important.

I can’t imagine ever lying on such a matter. Who’s better qualified to determine if you should give or not, you or the health care professionals? It’s great that you want to give, darn admirable. Go to the blood drive and explain your situation to them but for Pete’s sake don’t freakin’ lie. They put that clause there for a reason and you’ve got to respect it.

I was an exchange student in London in 1988. I was there for 3.5 months. That makes me ineligible to donate blood ANYMORE. Note that my blood was just fine for the gallon plus I’d given in the past, and for people I donated to directly for surgeries. But they changed the rule from 6 months to 3 months overseas. The reason? London, that hotbed of disease, could have given me Mad Cow. Yep. Mad Cow. MOOO!

I’m very disappointed. And every time I hear “we’re so short on supplies! Please help.” I’m annoyed that I can’t give anymore.

But the rules they made are there for a reason. If it turned out that something that I ate nearly 20 years ago could taint the blood supply, then I have to abide by the rules.

As someone who had to receive an unexpected blood transfusion prior to surgery, I’m asking you not to lie. Please. The very idea that someone might do so is pretty upsetting.

No, it’s not.

No, certainly not. As a rule of thumb, if you have to think about it, you know it is wrong.

Read April Fool’s Day and decide for yourself.

I’m in the same category as Boggette, except I was there for 2.5 years. I’ve been tempted to lie, but I never have and very strongly doubt I ever will. Until the rule change, I gave blood all the time. Here’s a fairly recent thread discussing the subject of “Mad Cow” disease.

I hear your frustration. I actually LIKED giving blood and it seems like people who actually enjoy it are pretty rare these days. But my family lived in the UK for a year during 1983-84 and as a result, no one in my family can give blood anymore.

It seems like such a waste, but it’s not worth lying about.

Just think how horrible you’d feel if you somehow did contract something. I know it doesn’t seem like it was possible, but a mistake with regard to this rule could be so bad. It’s just not worth it. Let someone else donate. Do you have a family member who can do it for you?

It may not be long until you can give blood again anyway (HIV type O strain). The blood center I work for just finished up testing the new test for HIV type O strain, and we have (within the past week) removed those questions from our form.

So don’t lie, and wait it out.

Those of you still deferred for travel to england/europe, and of course, the gay guys- still so sorry!

Yeah, it’s annoying when rules don’t do what they’re supposed to, but please don’t lie. When I first started giving blood, one of the rules was that you couldn’t ever have had sex with anyone from Southeast Asia. My girlfriend at the time was from Thailand. But I explained that she left there at age six, and then they let me give blood. So tell the truth and hope for the best.

Besides all that has been said, you seem to be greatly overestimating just how much an extra pint of blood is helping. Bending the “Niger” rules to donate a kidney to save a life is one thing. Tossing another pint of blood – however minimal the chances of it being infected – into the millions they already have. . .I wouldn’t worry about it.

Why not consider it a guilt-free “out”.

Give them some money if you’re really worried about it.

It seems like people here are pretty much in the “don’t lie” camp, but the reason this pops up as an ethical question for me is this whole notion of, as Kalhoun, letting someone else donate. I read in the NY Times that there are 400 commercial plasma collection centers in the U.S., and I have to wonder how many of the people out there selling their blood are as scrupulous as the people on this board. How does that knowledge weigh against the fact that the risk in my donating is, objectively, exceedingly low?

Nope not at all. I’m also in the category of people that used to give all the time, but due to the “live in Europe” clause are unable to donate. I’m hoping that they’ll change the rules at some point in the future, but for now I just have to drive by the donation centers and be sad.

Here in San Diego we have a local bloodbank as well as the Red Cross (and one or two others). What really strikes me is that the rules are different depending on who you’re donating to ! This scares the crap out of me (not as a donor, but if I ever needed to receive blood).

Anyway, to answer your question: Yes, it is unethical to lie in order to donate. And you should never lie on the application.
But keep in mind there may be some other organization with different rules, so you may not have to lie to donate to some other group.

I have donated a lot, but have had to pass on a regular basis ever since I took up scuba diving (and dive travel). This is where the rule differences hit me: what is categorized as a “malaria area” by one group may not be considered as such by another.
Anyway, I am deferred from donating for a full year if I visit a “malaria area” and unfortunately there is a high correlation of “cool dive destination” and “potential malaria exposure” - especially in the Carribean. I never lie about where I’ve travelled, so I’m deferred from donating. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even bother going in or filling in the application.

As far as I know, you can’t sell your blood in Illinois, so I don’t know anyone who has actually done that. I know other places allow it though. It would be impossible to weed out those who carry something that there is no test for.

I’m forbidden to donate blood because I’m gay, and everyone knows gays have “teh AIDS.” :rolleyes:

Yeah, it pisses me off. How they can be so backwards is beyond me. What makes it more ridiculous is that a) they screen all the blood they receive regardless of whom it came from, and b) I can legally practice as a nurse despite my sexual orientation, because I’ve tested negative for HIV.

The screening tests aren’t perfect. That’s why they have additional regulations in place… to minimize the risks.