Monday, 24 March 2014

Should  blood  donors  be  paid  for  their blood donation? 
During childhood, almost every human bone produces red blood cells but as adults, red blood cell production is limited to the larger bones such as the vertebrae, the breastbone (sternum), the ribcage, the pelvic bones, and the bones of the upper arms and legs.  As humans, we need at least seven percent of our bodies comprising of circulating blood. However healthy adult can lose almost 20% of blood volume before the first symptom, restlessness, begins, and 40% of volume (2 litres) before shock sets in. Death follows shortly thereafter.  The lifespan of most blood cells is very short. Some survive only a few hours. Others survive only a few days before they serve no further use to the body. 

Along with the medical uses, there are several benefits of blood donation to the person himself. Blood donation that is performed from time to time, can increase the blood circulation and helps in the formation of new blood cells.


There has to be restrictions in donating blood because some voluntary blood donors have infected blood such as HIV/AIDS, blood infections, and several other blood disorders that can create complications and prove fatal for the health of the blood recipient.



In the early 1980s, about 2,000 Canadian blood recipients were infected with HIV from tainted blood products and as many as 30,000, were infected with hepatitis C. This fiasco on the part of the Canadian Red Cross resulted in a new blood donation organization taking over the task of accepting blood from blood donors. After months of hearings (which included tearful statements from victims) and years of investigations and legal wrangling over the commission's ability to name names, Justice Krever released his landmark report in 1997. Fundamentally, he found that the relationship between the Red Cross and the federal and provincial governments was dysfunctional, and as a result, the country lacked a national blood policy.

That lack of a clear policy, he found, resulted in a series of disastrous decisions, including importing plasma collected from high-risk prison populations in the U.S.; not using a test that may have caught as many as 90 per cent of hepatitis C cases; delaying the purchase of safer, heat-treated blood products for hemophiliacs out of a desire to use up the potentially contaminated products; and a failure to track down all those who might have been infected. In the wake of the report, the Red Cross was stripped of its control over the blood program, and a new federal agency, Canadian Blood Services, was established to operate at arms-length from the government (except in Quebec, where Héma-Québec was established). In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Red Cross was negligent in the early days of the AIDS crisis, especially in comparison with how authorities in the U.S. dealt with the emerging disease. The total payout from both federal and provincial governments in Canada along with the Red Cross and insurance companies was in the billions of dollars.

In the developed world, most blood donors are unpaid volunteers who donate blood for a community supply. In poorer countries, established supplies are limited and donors usually give blood when family or friends need a transfusion (directed donation). Many donors donate as an act of charity, but in countries that allow paid donation some donors are paid for their donation. Donors can also have blood drawn for their own future use (autologous donation). Donating is relatively safe, but some donors have bruising where the needle is inserted or may feel faint.

As you can see from the title of this article, I am going to write the balance of this article in an attempt to answer that question.


The question that comes to the fore is this: “What prompts a donor who wants to be paid for his blood donation to even consider being paid for his donation?” It certainly isn’t because he thinks that donating blood is an honourable trait in a human being. He or she wants to be paid for his donation because he needs the money. Alas, many of these kinds of donors need the money to feed their drug habits. Does anyone really want to have the blood of a drug addict injected into their own blood stream? 


Well, no matter what is in a drug addict’s blood, it won’t get transferred to a patient in a hospital nowadays if it is bad blood but that Red Cross fiasco that took place in the 1980s resulted in bad blood being injected into 30,000 victims.

The screening nowadays includes testing for diseases that can be transmitted by a blood transfusion, including HIV and viral hepatitis. The donor must also answer questions about his or her medical history and take a short physical examination to make sure the donation is not hazardous to his or her health. How often a donor can give varies from days to months based on what he or she donates and the laws of the country where the donation takes place. For example in the United States, donors must wait eight weeks (56 days) between whole blood donations.

Donors are screened for health risks that could make the donation unsafe for the recipient. Some of these restrictions are controversial, such as restricting donations from men who have sex with men for HIV risk.

I have mixed feelings about this restriction. For example, women who have sex with men can also have HIV as can non homosexual men who have sex with women. The donors who are at risk of having HIV in their blood are men and women who are having unprotected sex with many members of the opposite sex.

There is another problem about refusing blood from a homosexual. Suppose the homosexual who wishes to donate blood simply denies being a homosexual. Does anyone really believe that a homosexual who is desperate for money is going to admit that he has sex with other men?

In 2011, the UK reduced its blanket ban on MSM donors to a narrower restriction which only prevents MSM donors from donating blood if they have had sex with other men within the previous year. Again, how would anyone know if the gay person is telling the truth when he denies having sex with other men the previous year?

Donors are also asked about medications such as dutasteride, since they can be dangerous to a pregnant woman receiving the blood. Will a man who is desperate for money and donates his blood for money really admit to taking dutasteride? Screening may include questions about risk factors for various diseases, such as travel to countries at risk for malaria or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (mad cow disease). Will the same desperate man admit to being in a country that has those diseases?               


Most blood is tested for diseases, including some sexually transmitted diseases (STD). The tests used are high-sensitivity screening tests and no actual diagnosis is made. Some of the test results are later found to be false positives using more specific testing. False negatives are rare, but donors are discouraged from using blood donation for the purpose of anonymous STD screening because a false negative could mean a contaminated unit. The blood is usually discarded if these tests are positive.


A private company called Canada Plasma Resources (CPR) began to advertise that they were willing to pay blood donors $25 for their blood. The company wanted the plasma from the donated blood. Plasma is a yellowish liquid in the blood that carries the red blood cells throughout the human body. The plasma is harvested for the pharmaceutical industry. Two paid plasma clinics were planned for Toronto and one for Hamilton.                                

Ontario Health Minister, Deb Matthews has announced that it is her intention to ban paid blood donor clinics in Ontario. I totally agree with her proposal. We have to ask ourselves, “What kind of people would donate blood only if they get $25 for their donation? It stands to reason that it is possible that drug addicts of which some are infected with diseases would flock to such clinics to get $25 so that they can buy more drugs. The CPR would be spending money on useless blood. Further, what is to stop a drug addict from going to two of these clinics, each one under a different name and donating their blood days apart? They would be in serious trouble with their health if they did that. People who volunteer their blood don’t do stupid things like that.  Admittedly, the blood cells in his donation would be returned to their bodies but without the plasma while 820 milimetres of plasma goes into a small bottle.


The chances of drug addicts donating blood without expectation of being paid for their donation are slim to none. They are not the kind of people who donate their blood for free. I would personally feel safer if the blood transferred into by body was that of a donor who gave his blood without being paid.



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