So many horror stories surround hospitals everywhere. Apart from the germs and diseases that you might pick up, they are reminders of illness, death, mortality. We hear the stories and in our hearts are thankful that - for the time - we are spared! Encounters in hospitals - not unlike those in the Trinidad licensing office or almost any public institution - are usually humbling if not aggravating.
The Blood Bank in Port of Spain on a Wednesday morning this week was a pleasant surprise. It's not that they are in an ultra-modern building with up to date facilities to encourage donors. The building is colonial old, its high arching roof soars over slender supports, the rooms below functional but tidy. Or that - as in my college years - you are induced with a chit for a "surf and turf" (translation: lobster and steak) dinner. You get a juice and a biscuit, and an enforced 15 minute rest.
But the process is kept simple and straightforward. The nurses - I saw only women though I was told there is one male nurse - are brisk but kindly and willing to chat nervous donors through the process. I was happy to be considered fit enough to give a unit of blood. The "pinch" was just that; the extraction process five minutes.
And for an hour of time, you have provided something made by an ineluctable and mysterious process, of time and chemistry, biology and being - a living gift.