Posted by: Rob | February 6, 2009

Negative for Cytomegalovirus

My blood type is ‘O’ negative.  It was definitely on more than one occasion over the course of my twenty five marriage to my first wife Shelley that she suggested I needed to donate blood.  Apparently, ‘O’ negative is the universal donor; anyone can accept transfused blood from an ‘O’ negative donor.

Still, I never managed to find the time to become a blood donor.  Except for one occasion when I was on assignment in my company’s Texas Division.  I still have the t-shirt I received from the friendly folks in the Red Cross bloodmobile.  It says “Holiday Hero” over a stylized American flag.

After Shelley died I decided to revisit the whole blood donor thing and start donating regularly.  It was kind of a tribute to her, I guess.  I know she herself had had to have a transfusion when our second daughter was born (prematurely and by ‘C’-section).

Last evening was my tenth donation to Canadian Blood Services.  And I learned something new.

Not only is my blood type the universal donor, but the donor screening nurse also noted that I am negative for cytomegalovirus.

“For what?” I said.

“Cytomegalovirus.” (I had to ask the nurse who did the needlework what the name was a second time in order to remember it.)

“That’s a big deal?” I asked.

“Oh yes.  If a baby needs an emergency transfusion, blood like yours is pretty much at the front of the line.”

I didn’t know that.  I didn’t know what cytomegalovirus was either.  The nurse manning the needle tried to explain it to me after I asked her about it.  She said she would look it up for me, but I said I could look it up on the internet.  She then asked if I was around animals much.

“What sort of animals?”

“Oh, dogs, cats, any animals.”

Apparently, the majority of people have been exposed to cytomegalovirus and have the antibodies.  And their pets are the usual vector.

I looked cytomegalovirus up on wikipedia.

I guess it’s some sort of human herpes virus, but the section on “Relevance to Blood Donors” backed up what the screening nurse had told me:

Although the risks discussed above are generally low, CMV assays are part of the standard screening for non-directed blood donation (donations not specified for a particular patient) in the U.S. CMV-negative donations are then earmarked for transfusion to infants or immunocompromised patients. Some blood donation centers maintain lists of donors whose blood is CMV negative due to special demands.

My dad used to always say, “Son.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re special.  It means that you’re f-cking retarded!”

However, in this case, it feels kind of good to be a little bit “special”.


  1. I read somewhere that mosquitos zoom in on diabetics because their blood is sweeter than average. That hypothesis sounded a bit iffy to me but what do I know? Seems YOUR blood is sweeter than most as well, but for different reasons … 🙂
    [have you thought of putting your name on the international marrow donor registry? The testing and stuff is done pretty much by donating a couple of pints, they screen it and then you wait, perhaps one day they’ll call you .. perhaps they won’t. Apparently if they do match you, the actual procedure takes about six hours … I guess they suck you dry in the process – and not in a good way. I registered end of last year … ]

  2. cool! Super-Blood! You should get a ‘special’ t-shirt!

    i used to donate, but due to meds, had to quit. Got one year left before i can donate again – and will have to start eating iron again to qualify…

  3. Not for nothing, I belive the downtown blood banks pay a premium for O negative. Something to keep in your back pocket…

  4. Awesome of you to give blood.
    Even more awesome that you have wicked special blood… best of both.

  5. Hey, my dad also used to say the same thing. Then he would tell me that I was his special son. Come to think of it, my old man didn’t like me much.

  6. Hey Rob, I just found out today that I am CMV negative too! I’ve always felt blessed to have O negative blood and took some pride in donating as often as I could. But the lady that called tonight made me feel really super special 🙂 It’s great that we can be a part of saving someones life by such a simple act. I hope you have kept on giving!

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting Beverly. Good to hear about being CMV negative. I understand it’s a bit of a rarity. Unfortunately, my donating days are over due to a cardiac event I experienced last year.

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