Although she is fluent in English and speaks basic German, Tatyana Khan was turned away from the clinic because, unlike other parts of Germany, Munich’s blood service only accepts fluent German speakers.
The German Red Cross and Bavarian Red Cross, which run blood donation services in the rest of the country, said that they accepted English speakers and provide donor forms in both German and English.
But a spokeswoman for the Munich Blood Service confirmed to The Local that they will only allow German speakers to donate. She said: “Our documents are only in German and there is lots of information in German which you must understand [before donating].”
The 26-year-old research assistant visited a blood donation centre with a friend in the Garching area of Munich, on the evening of Tuesday August 13th when she was barred.
Khan, who is from Kazakhstan, told The Local: “It came to me as a shock. Later I read threads on Toytown Germany [an English-language forum] about this. To be honest, the whole thing doesn’t make sense. The doctors could speak perfect English.”
She added: “How do they judge your complete comprehension of German? We both filled the papers based on a half-guessing approach. Later, I went online to register for a bone marrow donation and amazingly the site was half in English and it looks like there is no issue with language at all.”
A spokesman for Germany’s blood service, Friedrich-Ernst Düppe, said donors outside of Munich should be able to give blood if they had good English or German.
Potential donors have reported being barred from giving blood in areas outside of Munich before because their German was not good enough, but Düppe said that as long as the donor could also speak English they would be accepted.
He said: “In Germany we are obliged to keep the documents [from the donor] for 30 years after the donation and they must be readable. We can’t guarantee that we will have people who will speak all the different languages spoken in Germany. They either have to speak the native language or English.”