The Toronto Star reported yesterday if you are Deaf in Canada you are not allowed to donate blood. When I first read the article I thought I was reading something from 100 years ago, not 12 hours ago. The Canadian Blood Services (CBS) agency isn’t outright blaming the Deaf for their disability and their inability in the Canadian health system to donate blood — no, that would be too obvious and vicious — so the CBS instead attempts to take up the banner of honor and thoughtfulness by claiming it is a privacy violation for the Deaf to donate blood because they use interpreters.

The CBS argues the Deaf will not be honest on their written medical questionnaire and when verbally questioned in person by a nurse about their sexual history or their drug use or their mental state if an interpreter is present. Instead of giving the Deaf the choice to waive the right to an interpreter or to use a certified interpreter sworn to abide client/interpreter privilege — the CBS have a blanket policy that no Deaf are allowed to donate blood.

For the Deaf who use voice or pen and paper to communicate instead of an interpreter, the CBS has an answer for them as well — you must be able to speak and write English or French. The sole arbiter of who passes the fluency test for “understanding” and “writing” and “speaking” English or French belongs solely to the CBS.

No Deaf have passed the interpreterless speaking and writing part of the blood donation screening process. I find it hard to believe donating blood in Canada is such a thrill for the Deaf that they line up outside clinics to cheat on the questionnaire and lie to a nurse just so they can lose a pint instead of downing one.

The cruelty is obvious and transparent — the CBS believes the Deaf are physiologically unfit to donate blood and to prevent them from participating in the system, the Canadian Blood Services agency created false barriers and Straw Man arguments. This indefensible CBS public policy reminds me of how some believed a century ago the reason the Deaf were deafened was because they had been taken over by the Devil. This kind of current day scarlet lettering by a government agency against a disabled population they are mandated to serve is unfortunate in the specific and irredeemable in total.

It would be The Gift of the Magi-perfect if the head of the Canadian Blood Services agency’s child needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant and the only donor in the world who was a match was Deaf. How quickly would the CBS policy change concerning the fitness of the Deaf as donors?


  1. Yes, all donated blood is thoroughly tested, but testing blood can be expensive so disallowing people in the interview saves time and money. In the United States if you’ve had a tattoo in the last 12 months you are automatically ineligible to donate blood so if you’re a blood bank and you get a “yes” to a recent tattoo from a prospective donor you don’t have to use any needles or do any tests.

  2. 😀 No but I considered his name in Chinese but he didn’t want me to do that. It’s actually my hebrew name. I also have an ahnk and a pisces design. Don’t worry I plan to do all of them at some point.

  3. Not sure if that’s a compliment or what 😛 I still want at least one more (that’s what I say after each one they are addictive).

  4. Gotta love the good old “privacy” excuse.
    I wonder what Canada does if someone is ill and requires emergency room treatment. Wouldn’t the same concerns about use of an interpreter seem to apply?
    If they were really concerned about privacy, they could swear interpreters to an oath of confidentiality with a stiff penalty for any violation.
    I always thought the Canadians were on the ball.
    I bet this is just the tip of the iceberg since something this blatant and uncorrected is usually an indicator of widespread prejudice.

  5. Well, it seems Canada doesn’t want anything from a Deaf person in a Hearing person — so if the Deaf and dead or dying, that’s fine since everything “contaminated” in them that is Deaf remains in them.
    All certified interpreters already have a code of ethics they swear by and no hospital or public agency would dare use a non-certified interpreter because of lawsuits.
    I, too, thought the Canadians were top-notch and forward thinking and worth imitating — guess not!
    I agree there is something deeper going on here. I wonder if the Blind in Canada have the same restrictions on blood donation. What about those with Cerebral Palsy; those with Multiple Sclerosis; or those who lost a leg in the Iraq War? Are they worthy of contributing to the Canadian blood supply or not?
    This all started when a Deaf woman wanted to give blood and was turned down for the reasons I mention in my article. She is fighting back through the very government system that banned her. We’ll see how this all bleeds out…

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