Blood has historically been a powerful symbol in literature and art, signifying both life and death. Blood drinking and blood letting are in this way a case of taking the symbolic into the literal. We generally associate blood drinking with the stereotypical vampire. The subculture of those today who call themselves vampires claim that they need to consume blood as part of their diet as much as any normal human must eat food and drink water. Without it the vampire begins to feel a variety of symptoms from nausea, headaches, muscle aches, blurred vision, weakness, sensitivity to light and sound, and lethargy. These subside after they feed. However, apart from these 'vampires', there is an entire subculture of 'normal' human beings who like to engage in blood drinking for various reasons, which I will list. Blood drinking can be a solitary activity, or something to be 'enjoyed' between two people or in a group.

Curiosity

Blood is a very fascinating thing. It's life. It's a pretty colour. An odd taste. It flows curiously. It feels different every time. These type of cuts will usually be made with razor blades or more crude knives and are usually fairly superficial and made in an easy to hide area such as the inner arm. Rarely will this experimental act become a compulsion or a fetish.


Vampiric imitation

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other pop culture have romanticised vampires in recent years, where once they were represented as demons and creatures of the devil in folklore. Thanks to contemporary authors such as Anne Rice, vampires aren't shrouded by so much superstition and have become a sensual creature of passion and beauty, immortally young, powerful, rich and free of inhibition. The vampire is in this way no longer the murderous demon, but a creature possessing qualities that every human wishes it could own: fearlessness, immortality, indulgence, power. Some people find pleasure in imitating this lifestyle. They don't kill to get blood, but they will drink from themselves or any willing 'donors' using controlled cutting techniques. These people do not necessarily think they are vampires, but they enjoy playing the part. They are not usually the type to drink blood from a glass or drink an animal's blood.


Extremists

These are fanatics and possibly killers, often belonging to strange religious cults. They are the type to drink blood from a glass, and to offer bloodshed as a religious offering or sacrifice. They believe that blood is a powerful agent, and that it can help them reach immortality. There are a few people who sincerely believe they actually are vampires and are obsessed with vampires to the extent of becoming a fanatic. This person is not really religiously or homicidally motivated; they are delusional and possibly disturbed. At the very least, they have lost the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. These groups or individual extremists are very relatively small in number.


Sexual fetish

For some people, blood drinking becomes a part of intimacy. Often it is viewed as a more deeply bonding and erotic way to experience the essence of another person. It is the ultimate way to symbolically share your life with another. This would be an entirely consensual experience with perhaps a bit of fantasy role playing. As far as blood extraction, it has been said that if you suck on a particular part of the skin in a certain way for long enough, blood will come out. Sometimes blood is extracted by controlled cutting, or perhaps with teeth or fingernails for those who into more primal sex or a visceral experience.


Survival

No kidding. Jessie Camacho from the reality tv series "Survivor: Africa" spoke about her blood drinking for an Entertainment Tonight interview. The water was so repulsive that they turned to drinking blood. She said that they knew the Masai drank blood for protein, so they thought the challenge would either be eating bugs or drinking the blood. Of course, she set her mind to think that it would taste the worst, even worse than the water. When she actually chugged it down and took a taste of it, she says, "It wasn't that bad! It was actually good! It was better than the water, I'll tell you that!"



The first step is to find yourself some blood.

Mail Order Blood
Yes, there is actually such a thing as "mail order blood". One website that specialises in this apparently is http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Cavern/1238/blood.html. They do not use human blood, but they reassure you that all their animals are of the purest breeds. Apparently the taste is slightly different, but animal blood is just as satisfying and filling as human blood.

There are risks with such slaughterhouse blood, as with all blood. First of all, in many places it is illegal for the butcher to sell blood for consumption. This should clue you straight away in that it is not an especially safe practice. Even domestic animals can carry cross-species infectious disease as well as the risk of those diseases often associated with spoiled food (such as salmonella). If the slaughter process is sloppy, partially digested animal food-stuffs can contaminate the blood. This partially digested food is just loaded with bacteria, some of which our body has no clue how to work with. The meat can be rinsed and washed of these bacteria but one cannot do the same with the blood.

Along similar lines is the risk of a sloppy slaughter resulting in prion contamination of the blood. Prions are infectious proteins that cause "Mad-Cow Disease" among others such as Kuru, Krutsfield-Jackob (more genetic), Scrapie (in sheep) and a multitude of wasting diseases. Generally, the protein only resides in neuronal tissue (brain, spinal cord, etc) but sloppy butchering can cause contamination. The prion its self causes mutation of the bodies natural brain proteins to a non-digestable form. The proteins build up in the cells and causes lysis (breakage) and cell death. This eventually leads to "spongioform encephalopathy" (spongy brain) where you brain is riddled with holes and you begin to mentally degenerate.

Drinking blood from uncooked meat & poultry
There are many who do this; they are referred to as "squeezers". With the advance of mad cow, salmonella, E.Coli, and the like, it is advised against. If you insist upon it, you should go to a butcher and get fresh blood by the pint. You can pass it off as being used for a recipe. It is advisable to only use beef blood as pig's blood and blood from poultry has a higher chance of carrying bacteria. Heat the blood to a slightly warm temperature on the stove, stirring often. Do not boil it or over cook it. Cook it for about 5 minutes over a very low heat.

Finding a human victim donor
Donors are virtually everywhere. Some of the outer fringe groups and more alternative subcultures such as Goths, Ravers, Fetishists and the like are a buffet for the vampire, or blood drinker. These people are more likely open to the idea of someone drinking their blood.

Risks to the donor
There is the obvious risk of the wound; if not cleaned properly before and after drinking it can easily become infected. The human mouth is far from the cleanest thing on this planet. The bacteria can cause abcesses at the least and motor paralysis at the worst if the cut is close to a nerve that becomes infected. This can be avoided somewhat by cleaning the wound very well before and after drinking with some isopropal alcohol, bactine disinfectant and a little hydrogen peroxide. The wound should also be treated against scarring (Vitamin E creams help this somewhat) and bandaged for at least a day to keep out infection. Even all of this, though, is not a fool proof preventative.

Also to the donor is the risk of cutting at the wrong point. A person inexperienced in physiology can sever a nerve or major vessel in no time flat. Nerves do not regenerate and thus, once severed, can cause paralysis, loss of feeling and eventually a possible loss of limb. Major blood vessels are large enough that they do not quickly clot. Yes, you will have more blood then you know what to do with, but your donor will also be at great risk for bleeding to death.

Risks to the Drinker
There exists the risk of drinking too much. This can result in Iron overdose, (possibly) Toxic Porphyria, and bloody stools. Moderation should always be the key. You may want to drink two or three times a week, but it is far better to limit yourself to what you need. This cuts back on all the above mentioned problems to you and your donor.

Blood from a menstruating woman

This method does of course eliminate the hazard of creating a wound, but the possibility of infection is still present because of the unclean and bacteria ridden nature of the human mouth. To the donor it can result in pyrometriosis, a rather nasty, smelly, and painful infection of the uterus which results in it being filled with infected pus. Treatable through leutalyse injection which auses contraction of the uterus and expulsion of the infection with side effects of nausea and diarrhea. Not all people respond to the injections either so, more commonly, hysterectomy is the recommended treatment. The disease also often causes future infertility. Infection of the cervix, oviducts, and all other parts of the reproductive and, actually, this can extend to the bladder and kidneys as well. Cervical and uterine infections both increase the risk of future uterine or cervical cancer as well.


Questions to ask your donor

  1. Have they ever been exposed to AIDs or HIV?
  2. Have you ever been exposed to Hepatitis C?
  3. Have you ever been exposed to any type of Hepatitis virus at all?
  4. Have you been outside the country within the last 2 years?
  5. Have you ever used a dirty needle, shared a needle, or ever used a needle that you feel could have been, in anyway, unsafe at all?
  6. Have you recently had any part of your body pierced? If it was less than a year ago it is advisable to find another donor; it is better to be safe than sorry.
  7. How many people within the last year have you had sexual intercourse with? If more than one, you may need to be a little hesitant.
  8. Within the last month have you had any kind of sexual contact with anyone? If the answer is yes, then ask how many people? Then ask, Have you been with this person less than a month? If this answer is yes, then ask has this person slept with anyone else besides you during the last 2 months? If the answer is yes, then don't chance it.
  9. Find out if they are on medication or whether they have been fairly recently. Also find out if they are taking, or have taken drugs. Remember it will still be in their blood stream and you may be exposed to things you are allergic to.

It is always advisable to get your donor to have some tests done.
What tests should be ran on the blood?

  1. RPR (rapid plasma reagin). Its purpose is to determine the presence of treponema palidum infection (syphilis). If the test comes back positive you will then want to run a confirmatory test, which is FTA (fluorescent antitreponemal antibody). But no matter what, discard this blood, and defer this donor for 1 year. Note that the treponema palidum organisms die in blood after 5 days of refrigeration. That does not mean use this blood after 5 days. It means the test will not be accurate after 5 days.
  2. ALT (alanine aminotransferase). The purpose of this test is surrogate testing for Hepatitis C. Discard this blood if ALT values are out of range.
  3. Anti-HBc. The purpose of this test is a surrogate test for Hepatitus C; high incidence in HIV-positive donor. Never use this donors blood if the test values are positive.
  4. Anti-HCV. This test determines the presence of antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus. Again, if the antibodies are there defer this donor forever.
  5. HBsAg. Determines presence of Hepatitis B surface antigen. If this test comes back positive then repeat test procedure after neutralization of HBsAg in sample with anti-HBs; results unaffected if false-positive, at least 50% reduction if true-positive. On confirmation, discard blood and permanently defer this donor.
  6. Anti-HIV. This test is also very important. It determines the presence of antibodies to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). If test is positive, run a test called Western blot. There is a 0.5% false positive rate. Also discard the blood if positive.
  7. Anti-HTLV-1. This test determines presence of antibodies to human T-cell lymphotropic virus, type 1. If this test comes up positive, pitch the blood and never consider this donor again.

You can get these tests ran for free if you go to a blood bank and donate. It also then gives blood for the hospitals to use. Now if that is all free & clear, you can move on to..

Extracting the blood
The most popular way is to cut the skin with a very sharp, sterile scalpel in the shape of an X about 3-4 layers of skin deep and 1/4-1/2 inch long. For very small amounts sterile lancets work well and leave a very small wound which heals with little to no real evidence. These are the least painful for the donor as it makes the wound quick and easy. Biting is not recommended much as it can leave deep tissue damage as well as nerve damage and is extremely painful for the donor.

Sterilise the area and clean it with antibacterial soap and alcohol wipes. Make sure that your instruments (scalpels, lancets, razor blades) are also clean and sterile. Most lancets come sterile and capped so they remain that way until use. Scalpels can be found at most hospitals and medical supply stores as well as science stores dealing with biology. If they cannot be auto claved, soak them in alcohol and then using tweezers or forceps, grasp the end of the piece away from the blade (the end of the scalpel where it would attach to the handle) and hold it in a flame for 30 seconds then redip it in alcohol. The same holds true for razor blades.

Now drink.

If you don't want to drink it all at once, here are some handy hints on keeping blood fresh. If you were to bleed right now and put some into a glass you would have fresh blood (plasma). But for every second it sits in that glass it starts clotting. Eventually you will be left with a glass full of serum, and a clot in the bottom. So you must isolate what causes your blood to clot. The main difference is that plasma contans fibrinogen, and the serum contans fibrin.

There are different chemicals you can use to ensure the freshness of blood. EDTA (Ethylenediaminetraacetic acid) is a common one. EDTA binds with the calcium in your blood; making sure it doesn't clot. However, the blood will seperate into red blood cells on the bottom, and white blood cells, and platelets in the middle, and plasma on top. It can easily be stirred back to whole blood plasma though. You can find EDTA in Lavender top Blood tubes, preservatives for food, and in blood banks. Then you want can keep blood in the fridge, at 35 degrees Fahrenheit.


After all the risks & hassle, the spontaneity is gone so you may as well just abstain from blood :)

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