Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece about my experience donating blood with the American Red Cross after finding out that Palestine had allegedly been removed from the organization’s database. The day after its publication, Director of Biomedical Communication Stephanie Millian responded with an explanation, which I will include in the following paragraph. But before I discuss the response, I want to clarify that the purpose of this reportage is to encourage the Red Cross to sidestep any attempts to normalize the occupation of Palestine by rejecting its existence, not to keep the Red Cross from accepting and utilizing blood donations that save hundreds of lives every day.
Here is Millian’s response:
Hi, I work for the American Red Cross in their biomedical services division. I am are sorry for your experience and are very appreciative that you stayed and donated blood, a truly lifesaving gift. I wanted to let you know that the American Red Cross uses the U.S. Government’s Health Information for International Travel reference tool as the source document to assess countries with a malaria risk. The guide does not include all countries in the world, but does include all countries with a malarial risk. There has been no recent change in the list and we apologize if our staff was mistaken about that fact. As you are aware and highlighted in your blog post, the Palestinian Red Crescent is a fully recognized member of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network. Thank you again for taking time to share the gift of life with others.
Stephanie Millian, Director of Biomedical Communication
American Red Cross
I spent some time doing research about the Health Information for International Travel source document that Millian cites and found that it is put together every two years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federally-funded public health agency in the United States. The document, more informally known as the Yellow Book, identifies a diverse array of global health risks and highlights all recorded instances of disease outbreaks with a special focus on malarial transmission. The American Red Cross uses this guide to update its database of international travel destinations which is then used to determine whether or not someone is eligible to donate blood depending on the countries they’ve visited within a certain time period of time. [Read more...]