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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Everest marathon needs doctors

We blood donors are special ­ it's a pity no-one told the Transfusion Service

I'm usually immune to begging letters, but this one is different. It's from the Blood Transfusion Service. 'We need your special help,' it begins.

I primp up my hair and read on.

'You're probably aware of the very special qualities of your particular blood group,' it continues, and of course I am. My blood group is exclusive to only three per cent of the population. I am O Rhesus Negative, the universal donor. In an emergency, my blood can be given to anyone. My blood is liquid gold. For some reason I feel virtuous about this, as if I have done something special.

'Please make every effort to attend your blood donation session at your earliest convenience,' pleads the letter ­ and I know I won't have to make an effort to remember it because I will get a personal phone call the evening before. 'Hello Mr Peeverlob, how are you today?' schmoozes the young lady on the telephone. 'We do hope you can join us tomorrow. It means a lot to us.'

'Will you be sending a limo?' I inquire, reclining upon my chaise longue. Well, no, they won't actually, because this is the NHS, so I haul myself up to the church hall under my own steam. I sashay in with a yawn and sprawl in the plastic chair. 'Hi,' I drawl, and languidly offer my finger for the lancet.

'Take a seat in the queue please,' barks the harridan behind the desk, and I realise that I'm not dealing with the honey-tongued lovely of yesterday evening. The illusion of VIP treatment disappears immediately.

An hour later, I commence an

undignified struggle to persuade them to take my blood.

'Have you been exposed to any infectious diseases in the past two weeks?' Well, yes, of course I have ­ I'm a GP. The nurses have a conference about it, looking at me doubtfully. 'Have you got a rash?' one asks. 'Damn your impudence!' I reply.

They ask me about drugs, and

I admit to the usual cocktail of alcohol, benzodiazepines and strong analgesics that make life as a GP just about bearable. Once again they go into a huddle, and eventually call in the attending doctor. She asks me if I've ever had sex with a prostitute

or an African, or weird sex with just about anyone, and I start to get depressed because of my boringly conventional love life.

Eventually they do me the favour of siphoning off a pint. 'Do you want local anaesthetic?' says the nurse, and of course

I do, and I can tell she despises my weakness. 'Now you have to have a drink and a biscuit,' she says once it is over. 'I don't want a drink and a biscuit,'

I tell her. 'It's in the regulations,' she tells me, her voice hardening, and I decide to make a break for it. I don't make it to the door. Two nurses hold me down while a third forces three custard creams between my clenched teeth.

Summoning what dignity

I can muster, and brushing biscuit crumbs out of my hair, I stroll nonchalantly towards the door. At the exit, I turn and consider giving the whole lot of them the (still bleeding) finger. But I quell

my impulse. Because next time, I think

I might get a badge.

Dr Phil Peverley is a GP in Sunderland

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