Markus Stocker bio photo

Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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(For a note regarding the title, please see previous post.)

I think, it was September 2009 when I first asked a colleague for information regarding blood donation in Finland. He wasn’t familiar with the details but he gave the first hint: the address of the local Red Cross Finland Blood Service. After I first visited the center, I learned that donating blood in Finland would not be as straightforward as I hoped.

First, you need a Finnish social identity number, which I already had. Here, however, the requirements I fulfilled ended. Next, you need an official Finnish identification with picture. I thought, oh, well, I suppose I won’t be donating blood in Finland, saddened. You need one of (i) Finnish passport, (ii) Finnish identity card, (iii) Finnish driver’s license, (iv) Kela card (the Social Insurance Institution of Finland).

I tried Kela first, after all it would be good to have coverage here anyhow. No luck, I’m currently paid for 15 hours / week, required are 18 hours / week. What else? I’m sure I won’t get a Finnish passport. Do I get a Finnish identity card? Unlikely, I thought. Driver’s license? Do I want to go through this?

Some day between Christmas and New Year. I went to the police, with a Red Cross Finland Blood Service business card and a list of the four cards, in Finnish, and asked for directions; which one can I get? A Finnish identity card! Sorry, what? I’m not a citizen, how is it possible I get a Finnish identity card?

I need to have a permanent resident status. Back in September, I did register as a temporary resident, unclear on what advantage a permanent status would give me. However, I was confident I would fulfill the requirement for a permanent resident status, i.e. a work contract for at least two years. (Wish it would be that easy for the US, actually, no, everywhere.) Thus, I went to the immigration office to change my status. They did, almost instantly, including a warm welcome smile, I think partially motivated by my tentative Kiitos, hei hei, ja Onnellista Uutta Vuotta (Thank you, goodbye & Happy New Year). I needed a new passport picture as well, the one I had didn’t fit the model. Back at the police things went really smooth.

Two weeks ago, I got the Finnish identify card, my first in a foreign country. It didn’t take me long to visit Red Cross Finland Blood Service again, confident I would match all requirements now. I did.

It might sound like a lot of troubles to go through for something like blood donation. Perhaps. I would not want to miss anything of the experience, though. First, blood donation is a reasonable thing to do, if you can. Second, I did enjoy to learn the differences to what I’m used to. Third, I have never been given so much attention while donating blood like here in Finland, notably the nurse bringing me multivitamins juice during the donation, almost worried I might run out of liquids. But the best part has been a new friend who joined me, kiitos, for me the first time I had shared a donation upon my suggestion.

On a side note. I previously reported on what donated blood is tested for in Switzerland. In Finland, the list is longer.

  • ABO, Rh and Kell (K) blood group components
  • HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus
  • HBA, or hepatitis A virus
  • HBV, or hepatitis B virus
  • HCV, or hepatitis C virus
  • The Syphilis bacterium
  • Parvovirus

(Source: Red Cross Finland Blood Service “Lend an Arm Donor Information Pack.”)