For some blood drinkers, there is no such thing as too much blood. However, there is such a thing as giving too much blood. It is important for blood drinkers to be aware of how much blood they are taking from a donor and at what level blood loss causes health problems.
Very few vampires would be willing to go to the doctor and ask about how much blood is okay to take from a donor. On the same note, not many donors would want to go to the doctor and admit that they have been donating to a blood drinker. (Ed note: In researching for this article even I was not overly fond of the idea of approaching a doctor.)
Despite the general hesitancy in approaching health care professionals, all blood drinkers should know how to meet their blood requirements without causing the donor to fall ill. There are people in the vampire community who make their living as a nurse and they are able to provide some information. Since data on how much blood a vampire can take safely is very scarce or nonexistent, one can turn to the Red Cross guidelines for advice.
It is not a good idea to take more than one pint from a donor in a 56 day period. In other words, take no more than 473.18ml (US conversion) from a donor in one eight week period. In a standard blood test, an average of around 54ml is drawn from the person. The Red Cross requires donors to be seventeen or over and at least 110 pounds. This may or may not be a suitable guideline for blood drinkers to follow since some are under the age of seventeen. However, every blood drinker should keep in mind the legalities of feeding on a donor who is not considered an adult under the law. Some states and countries deem bloodletting to be illegal, even among consenting adults. Caution is always necessary in order to minimize the risk of assault charges.
It is integral that blood drinkers keep track of how much blood they are withdrawing from their donors. For example, a 10cc (1 cc is 1ml) shot of blood per day, adds up to a total of 70cc per week. This does not seem like much, but when taken every day for two months, this amounts to 560ml. This is over two cups of blood, and it is 86.82ml more than the Red Cross allows its donors to give in an eight week period. It is true that plasma begins to regenerate within a few hours, but red blood cell production takes at least a few weeks. Red blood cells do not reproduce fast enough to replace a pint taken more often than every 56 days. While blood loss may stimulate red blood cell production, rushing this process results in inferior or weak red blood cells which are too fragile to function properly.
Blood drinkers and donors should be aware of illnesses that result from blood loss. Anemia is probably the most common concern. There are many different types of anemia, but the one most related to blood feeding issues is iron-deficiency anemia because it is frequently caused by blood loss. Watch for these symptoms: fatique, low energy, rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, headaches, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, pale skin, legs cramps and insomnia. Also watch for the symptoms specific to iron deficiency anemia such as mouth soreness, nails growing in an upward curve, and a hunger for unusual things that are not normally consumed such as dirt, paper, or paste. Blood may be considered “unusual” to most in the health profession so in this context it might explain a donor’s hunger for blood. However, the donor’s blood craving should not be confused with vampirism, and the term sympathetic vampirism has been making the rounds in the vampire community.
There are a number of reasons to take great care protecting a donor’s health. Aside from the emotional and psychological attachments formed, as well as the more physical, there are more practical concerns. Anemia must be diagnosed with a blood test and since it is almost always present as a side effect from some other underlying condition, a doctor will look for this underlying condition. If none are found, the doctor may begin to ask questions. Few donors would want to admit where their blood was going and that the underlying condition was actually a hungry vampire or blood drinker. However, this is not an excuse to avoid seeing a doctor when health problems might be present. The donor and the blood drinker should keep themselves healthy and safe out of respect for each other. In this day and age, neglecting one’s health can be deadly if HIV and other blood borne diseases are taken into account, not to mention illness from frequent blood loss.
In order to decrease risk of anemia one should be sure they are not taking too much blood from the same donor. In addition, eating a well balanced diet that includes good sources of iron such as red meat, nuts, seafood, eggs (yolk) and whole grain products can help prevent iron deficiency anemia. Foods rich in vitamin B-12 and folate are also helpful in preventing anemia.
Iron supplements should not be taken unless anemia is already present or upon the advice of a doctor. Too much iron in the system can cause illness and may even be fatal for some people, especially children. Keep in mind that caffeine often hinders the absorption of iron as can high amounts of calcium. Certain food preservatives such as EDTA and vegetables containing phytates (whole wheat, soy beans, legumes, oats, barley, rye and others) can also prevent iron absorption. Vitamin C encourages iron absorption as it makes the stomach more acidic.
The Red Cross can help blood drinkers screen their donors, unknowingly of course. While visiting the Red Cross is not a substitute for proper health care it can help. The Red Cross takes a drop of blood from a perspective donor to determine blood type and to make sure there is enough red blood cells to donate safely. If the donor is refused by the Red Cross because of a low red blood cell count, this is the first sign that taking their blood is not a good idea. Furthermore, many labs offer independent blood testing, as do Planned Parenthood clinics around the country. One basic test is the CBC (Complete Blood Count) which determines the size, number, volume, and presence of hemoglobin in red blood cells. (Note: other tests for blood borne diseases should be done as well.) The Red Cross also evaluates the risk factor in potential donors and will not allow them to donate if they have a history that might put them at risk for blood borne disease. (HIV antibodies can take weeks to show up in the blood so a person can be infected but still have a negative test result.) The Red Cross will notify an individual if any tests are positive or if they detect any health problems. Of course, using these methods assumes that the donor or blood drinker is honest, and realistically this may not always be the case.
Accompanying the donor to the Red Cross might help to at least verify the issues of them having enough red blood cells to give blood safely. The blood drinker can be present to witness whether or not the Red Cross accepts the person as a donor. If the donor walks away with a refusal from the Red Cross it would be a good idea to explore the donor’s health further. The same can be applied to blood drinkers.
Practicing safe bloodletting methods and maintaining health is not only something those in the vampire community can do for their own benefit. Being educated in these areas also tells the rest of society that yes, vampires may be strange, but they are not stupid.
Copyright © 2002 by Ravena Lee.