From Iceland — Doctor Vows to Remedy Blood Donation Problem

Doctor Vows to Remedy Blood Donation Problem

Published November 26, 2010

The head doctor at the Blood Bank has informed the Grapevine that they will be changing their guidelines with regards to non-Icelandic speakers who wish to donate blood.
As the Grapevine reported, Thomas Dähling, a German national who has been living in Iceland for about one and a half years, wanted to donate blood and fulfilled every requirement to do so. However, because he could not speak Icelandic, he was turned away, even after offering to come with an interpreter.
The main reason for the problem, head doctor at the Blood Bank Dr. Sveinn Guðmundsson told us, was that “The person donating blood has to be able to understand questions on a questionnaire that we give to potential donors. As these questions are of a personal nature, it is a question of privacy that there be no one else present for the interview, even if the potential donor permits the translator to be present. We do this both to ensure the security of any potential recipients, and to protect the privacy of a potential donor.”
Many readers responded to this story, and earlier yesterday evening, we received the following e-mail from Dr. Guðmundsson:

Thank you for your coverage. In light of your story, a third party has contacted us who is ready to translate our donor questionnaire and important information to donors regarding infectious risks.
We will in January get together with this party and will try to ensure thereafter that there is at all times a translation available of our donor questionnaire and information pamphlet.
Those individuals who understand the English in these documents, and can sufficiently understand questions and comments from our staff in English and/or in Nordic languages that our staff understand, can under those conditions be considered for becoming blood donors.
We thank you very much for your help in this matter.
On behalf of the staff at The Blood Bank, Sveinn Gudmundsson MD PhD, Director, Blood Bank, National University Hospital, Reykjavik Iceland

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