There can be little doubt that prisoners generally have taken a lot from society and often have given very little back. A few years ago this led me to start thinking about ways prisoners like myself could do something positive. That was when I hit upon the idea of donating blood.
I raised the idea with prison staff and was shocked at the response I received. They said this would never be allowed because many people would not want blood which has come from a criminal.
I don’t know if this is true. I’m sure there are some cases where people might not like the idea of receiving such blood, but there are also cases where people don’t like the idea of receiving blood from someone of a different race. The fact is, you don’t get to choose where the blood you receive has come from at all, let alone on the basis of some misguided kind of prejudice. I would have thought that, if you had been injured seriously enough to need blood, you would take it from wherever you could get it. I argued this and the member of staff in question backed down, instead switching to a whole new reason for it to not be allowed.
He said that some prisoners have blood disorders such as hepatitis, so it would be risky to let them donate blood at all. Well, aren’t there people on the outside with all the same diseases? And I’m guessing that there must be a system in place to test blood donors for exactly this reason. So if the donated blood is tested, where is the risk?
It has always frustrated me that I can do so little to help those in need and to put something good and positive out into the world to try and counterbalance some of the negativity of my past, and this is just yet another example. I know of countless prisoners who would be prepared to donate blood, and even organs to help those who need them. But whilst we argue for a chance to do so, there are people dying on transplant waiting lists. Where is the justice in that?