The greatest value of donating blood is you become a hero, even if you did not aim to become one. It is a practice done by the soldiers in Civil War, World War I, World War II and is continued by several good-hearted people until today.
Donating blood is a humanitarian act— a good act beyond compare. You do not just give money here or feed the homeless kids in the street. Once the needle is inserted to your vein and the blood starts to flow inside the bag, you automatically save lives. You give them a reason to live and why they should stay alive.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. (Mohammed Ali)
However, as time evolves, blood donation becomes a business haven. Some blood banks pay donors in return for a plasma and sell it at a higher price. In 1989, Gilbert M. Gaul of Philadelphia Inquirer reported a “stock exchange” in paid-plasma industry. He ran an investigation for one year and discovered that some blood centers beg people to donate blood. They sell the pint of blood at an expensive cost and could earn roughly $50 million a year.
- Is this right?
- What moral issues this scheme brings?
- How can the government change the blood system to revive the real meaning of donation?
This book provides some answers. It is written to reveal the truth you need to know about blood donation. Hopefully, after reading it, you will learn things that are so valuable.
Defining Blood Donation
There are a several ways to make a difference. You can feed children in an orphanage or work as a volunteer in a hospice care center. You can also make everything more special: you can choose to save lives.
Donating your blood is one of the heroic acts of helping people, even if they do not know who you really are. It occurs when you voluntarily agree to have your blood drawn out of you and be used for transfusions. Various blood donors are unpaid volunteers for charity purposes. There are also those who are paid in exchange for some benefits, like money and paid-time-off from work.
Nowadays, the demand for blood donation is high. Poorer countries in Africa and Asia need more donors. These countries need support from their government to encourage their countrymen to donate blood and save more lives.
Types of Blood Donation
There are five basic types of blood donation: homologous, replacement, directed, apheresis and autologous. Always remind yourself that one type is not superior from the other, and the decision of which process you want to participate in is mainly up to you. You can also ask the blood center about the type of donation they regularly need.
Directed Blood Donation
Have you seen a movie where a son is donating blood to his sick father? If yes, that is basically a direct type of donation.
Voluntarily giving your blood to your family members or relatives is considered rare. Beware, though: not all direct donations are safe.
The truth is, various doctors must check directed donation for any radiation effects first before it is transferred into another person. They also say that directed donation may cause conflicting reactions in the immune system, putting the recipient in a more vulnerable position.
Homologous Donation (Allogeneic)
Another altruistic method of blood donation is called homologous or allogeneic. This is the process wherein you choose to visit a donation center and voluntarily donate blood for storage purposes.
You must be aware that every hospital, regardless of size, needs a pint of blood every day. Although the status of the recipient remains unknown, it is safer for a blood bank, such as Red Cross, to have a full storage than none.
A blood donation that is both direct and allogeneic is called replacement. Replacement donation occurs when you consistently donate a specific amount of blood to a family member just to ensure that there is a daily and adequate supply of blood components. This is a common practice in more developing countries, such as Ghana and India.
This type of donation is sometimes discouraged because of the following reasons:
- There is a formation of antibodies.
- Other family members are not physically fit to donate blood.
- It is hard to discern the sexual activities of your relatives. They just lie during the physical examination.
Oftentimes, people choose to donate their plasma, as this procedure is more profitable compared to giving blood alone. This procedure is called apheresis. The type of donation happens when the blood goes through a special machine and its components are separated from each other. Usually, apheresis only removes the plasma and the other blood components are transfused back inside the body after filtration.
It is now possible to donate your blood, store it for a while, then re-transfuse to you after your surgery. This type of donation is referred to as autologous. It reduces the chance of having complications right after transfusion.
Your blood can be preserved for up to six weeks before your scheduled surgery, but please be reminded that you still need an approval from your doctor before undergoing this kind of procedure. This is to make sure that everything (insurances, legal documents, etc.) is well taken care of and the right amount of blood is properly returned to you right after the operation. Doctors call this procedure as blood dilution.
Due to impractical procedures, the autologous donation has been the center of controversies. Some doctors and health practitioners are questioning its effectiveness. They also claim that the entire procedure is risky and it is not 100% safe. They prefer to use the blood supplied by various donors in centers, instead.
How Blood Donation is Performed
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. (Winston Churchill)
Without blood, gases, nutrients and other waste products cannot be delivered all throughout your body. Therefore, feel proud when you donate blood. It is the one and only element in this world that cannot be manufactured or reproduced. A donor like you is the only source of blood. If you cannot donate a pint, who else will?
Donating blood is a simple procedure; the entire process will only take an hour. However, there are a number of reminders you need to do before and after the procedure.
Before donating, you should:
- Get hydrated. You need to drink lots of water and other nutritious fluid. For the meantime, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol/liquor.
- Eat lots of food that are rich in Iron. Studies show that you will have healthier hemoglobin levels and enhanced oxygen transport if you regularly include iron-rich food in your diet. Examples of iron-booster food are liver, soybeans, chicken peas, lentils, beans, turkey, oysters, clams, scallops, cereals, grains, prunes, spinach, raisins, egg yolks and red meat.
- Drink your vitamins daily. Make sure that you load your body with the right amount of Vitamin C.
- Do not eat food with high fat content. If you have a party and most of the food being served are very fatty, only eat a small portion of it and, if you can, indulge in fruits instead.
- Do not forget to eat your full breakfast before arriving at the blood bank.
Pointers During Donation
While inside the blood bank, you should:
- Calm yourself by thinking of happy thoughts. Consider yourself a hero for donating your blood— not everyone has the ability to do that.
- Do not be in a hurry. Take your time in answering required questions during the screening.
- Always remind yourself that these questions are made for your— and the recipient’s— safety. Lying will not do any good, for your blood will be thoroughly tested for HIV, malaria, viral hepatitis, syphilis and other types of diseases.
- Be honest. For some, answering personal questions can be tough. These people are worried that others will know their secrets. If that is the case, then donating blood is not for you. No need to worry, because any information divulged in blood banks is confidential. It will not be released without your notice.
- Be aware that answering these personal questions also protects your health. The blood center wants to make sure your body can still cope up after a loss of blood. Remember that blood donation will not make you anemic, and people with anemia are not allowed to donate blood.
- Expect that your pulse, blood pressure and body temperature will be monitored. Also, the bank must be aware of your blood type. For blood transfusions, Group O is cited as the universal donor, while in plasma transfusions, it is type AB.
- Relax and avoid getting too anxious while the actual blood donation is being done.
After donating, you should:
- Remove the band-aid after four hours.
- Feel happy and leave all your worries behind. Tell yourself that you have saved someone for every pint of blood that you have donated.
- Rest for thirty minutes or so and eat light-but-nutritious food right after. Buy some fruit juices or shakes to recover.
- Drink your glucose supplement— if you have one.
- Avoid working-out. Do not lift your dumbbells or ride on your stationary bicycle as this can only make you feel sick. Ask your doctor about the right time for any extensive exercises.
- Sleep early. Your body still needs to recover from blood loss. Forget all your night routine and hit the sack as early as you can.
Importance of Blood Transfusion
Just imagine if you are not allowed to donate your blood to your ten-year-old son, who has severe anemia. It is a very frustrating situation, isn’t it?
Everyone needs blood and everyone needs blood transfusion. You need it to replenish your blood that is destroyed or lost by your bone marrow. Contrary to some religious beliefs, blood transfusions make you live longer, healthier and fitter.
The Solution to Almost All Complications
Blood transfusion is the only procedure that can save people from loss of cells after a surgery or an accident. While RBC is considered the most common transfused component, the procedure is the only treatment used to cure various cancer patients and people with anemia.
For those people who need to undergo an organ transplant surgery, an ample reserve of blood is required. This is the type of surgery in which surgeons always need to perform blood transfusions to keep the patient alive. Regardless of the type of surgery, it is the top priority of blood banks to inform surgeons and other physicians of the status of their blood supply. This is to avoid blood shortages, and in cases of deficit, there is an immediate action to perform.
For people with bone marrow failure, transfusion sustains life and provides a sufficient substitute for blood, which their system can no longer produce. If you are diagnosed with profound anemia, you can benefit from blood transfusion. It corrects the cancer-related illness until your body resumes its normal RBC (Red Blood Cell) production.
Therefore, blood transfusion is safe. It cannot kill you as long as it is performed in a sanitized environment and with a professional health care specialist. The entire procedure will not take long as the necessary needle and machine are always updated and well-matched with the patient’s needs.
Blood substitute or artificial blood is a type of procedure used for those religious groups who are against transfusion. These procedures, such as volume expander and oxygen-carrying substitutes, are still in clinical evaluation and, if proven to be successful, it can save numerous lives as well.
Blood Donor Eligibility
“The greatest wealth is health.” (Virgil)
There are a number of considerations you should take note of. Blood donation is not for everyone. Yes, it is a heroic act, but it is only limited to those who are physically healthy.
However, it does not mean that if you appear to be skinny, you cannot donate blood. It is still possible, but there will be a need for thorough screening.
Basic Requirements for a Blood Donor
Every country has different laws, but anyone who meets the following requirements is automatically eligible to donate blood:
- You must be between 17–70 years of age.
- You must weigh more than 110 pounds.
- You must not have donated blood in 56 days.
- You are only allowed to donate platelets in a maximum of 24 times per year.
- You must pass the physical examination. If you are not feeling well, cancel the appointment.
- You must not have the following diseases:
- Leukemia (blood cancer)
- Lymphoma (cancer in lymph nodes)
- Hodgkin’s Disease (cancer in white blood cells)
- Hepatitis (liver inflammation)
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (degenerative neurological disorder)
- HIV (lentivirus that causes Acquired ImmunoDefiency Syndrome or AIDS)
- Diabetes (insulin deficiency)
- Thyroid Cancer (malignant thyroid neoplasm)
- Asthma (respiratory problem)
- Heart Problems
- Haemophilia (abnormal bleeding)
- You cannot donate blood if alcohol is consumed within a 24-hour time frame.
- Pregnant women are not allowed to donate. They are only eligible a year after their delivery.
- Women who are menstruating should not donate blood.
- Body piercing and tattoos acquired in the past 12 months are also prohibited.
- Men who have unprotected sex with men (MSM) are also deferred.
Benefits of Blood Donation
Blood is life. Life is blood. Blood is the reason why you are alive and there is no substitute for it. There are several scientists and professional researchers who attempt to come up with an artificial substitute, but there is no replacement as good and red as the human blood.
I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. (Edward Everett Hale)
The human blood is unique. When someone needs blood, he or she can only get it from you. For every pint of blood that you donate, you are helping three other people to live longer. If that pint of blood is separated into various components, such as red blood cell, white blood cell, plasma, platelets, etc., you are helping at least seven people.
That’s not all.
Donate your blood regularly and you are giving assistance to surgical patients, people who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. You are also adding more sufficient nutrients to premature babies. In fact, apart from saving many lives, donating blood means you are awarding yourself an array of health benefits.
Free Health Consultation
Donate a blood in any blood bank and you will be thoroughly examined by a licensed health professional, medical technician, nurse or doctor. Your medical results will show your current weight, blood type, hemoglobin level, protein level, and whether you are physically fit or not to donate blood. All these procedures are free of charge.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Until now, there is no conclusive evidence that proves donating blood prevents heart disease. However, a number of doctors and a group of scientists speculate that blood donation might only reduce your chance of having a heart disease.
Dr. Harvey Klein published an article in USA Today, hypothesizing that blood donation stops too much production of iron. Dr. Klein’s study reveals that ingesting too much iron in the system produces free radicals. These free radicals disrupt the production of normal cell and it might damage your heart.
Florida Blood Services has conducted a study, stating that consistent blood donors have lower chances of a heart attack.
In Finland, about 2,682 men were chosen to participate in a study, and results revealed that those men who donate blood at least once a year had 88% less risk of having heart attacks than those non-donors. These donors also showed less signs of any cardiovascular disease.
Helping others without expecting something in return always feel good, right?
You just feel happy upon exiting a blood bank. You try to imagine a number of people you can help without lending them money.
Decide to donate blood and your body automatically replaces the blood volume you lost during the process. Your red blood cells are renewed within the time period of four to eight weeks. The replenishment process also helps your body stay healthy. Cholesterol oxidation is reduced, too.
The term may sound very complicated, but do not confuse yourself. Hemochromitosis only means an overloaded supply of iron in the body. It is a genetic disorder that can lead to organ damage.
A certain survey reveals that one in every three to four hundred British people is diagnosed with this type of disorder. However, it is confirmed by the American Red Cross that people with hemochromitosis can still donate blood. There are no harmful effects for the recipient.
Donating blood, either paid or unpaid, saves lives. People who are severely injured need your help. You have the power to extend their lives by donating a pint of blood every eight weeks.
It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.(Tom Brokaw)
Making a Difference
As you are reading this book, are you now thinking of doing something worthwhile? Do you want to help people without spending a dime? That’s not impossible.
You just need to visit a blood bank near you (or the Red Cross) and ask them if you are qualified to donate blood. If the answer is no, then it is the right time to challenge yourself. If you are too skinny, gain some weight and eat the right type of food that your body constantly needs.
Let’s say you have a physical ailment that stops you from donating blood. You can join a group or a charity and help them find more volunteers. Encourage these people. Let them understand the many benefits of blood donation.
See, nothing is impossible when it comes to donating blood. If you want to make a difference, no excuses shall hinder you… however big or small they are.
Risks of Blood Donation
Donating your blood is safe. The entire procedure is supervised by well-trained professionals. There is no need to think of the what-ifs and what-could-have-happened-if. Once you have decide to save lives, just go with it and do not be reluctant.
It is inevitable to feel some discomforts here and there. That is something you can expect and it is beyond your control. Sometimes, the truth is, blood donation can be so risky once you fail to follow the rules as directed. It is a must for you to take an ample amount of rest right after donating blood.
Forcing yourself to stand, walk or work can only lead to complications. The following potential risks are possible once you do not give your body some time to pause and rest after blood donation:
- Extreme dizziness
- Too much bleeding
- Edema (skin swelling)
- Blurred Vision
- Abdominal cramps
Demands for Blood Donations
Four common causes of blood shortage:
- Less donors – people are afraid of needle insertion
- People are not comfortable answering personal questions
- Ineffective promotional alerts to encourage donors
- Mark of economic strain on blood centers
United States of America
There is a major shortage of blood in US alone. There is an estimate of 4.5 Americans who need blood transfusion annually. In a survey report released in 2007 by Nationwide Blood Collection, one in every seven people who enter a hospital needs blood. There were also times that a number of surgeries were postponed due to the insufficient supply of blood.
“The stress on the blood supply system is increasing. We are hoping to educate and cultivate a younger, healthy generation of blood donors to replace those who will soon no longer be able to donate.” Dr. Celso Bianco, the president of America’s Blood Centers concluded in an interview.
America’s Need for Blood
In 2009, out of 305 million and more population, only nine million and more, who were 50 years of age and older, donated blood. Ninety-four percent of this estimated number were registered voters, but it is too difficult to discern the exact number of donors aged 17 – 25.
Even the American Red Cross needs 25 units of blood just to provide the needs of the following victims:
- Patients who suffered accident and trauma
- Children with neurological diseases
- Surgical patients
- Oncology patients
- Kidney-failure patients
If more than 10 of 37% Americans, who are qualified to donate, give even a single donation, that can already be used to treat more than three existing patients. The other amount will be used to help more than three lives.
There were more than 4,000 gallons of red blood cells used every day in 2009. It is suggested that if a 17 year-old donor is encouraged to donate 56 times annually, that donor alone can eventually give 48 gallons of blood until he reaches the age of 76.
Forty-eight gallons can potentially save more than a thousand lives, including those people diagnosed with sickle cell disease. Ninety-eight percent of the African-American people are affected by this genetic blood disorder, and they need frequent blood transfusions as long as they live.
Blood Types in the US
Among the various blood types, Type O- is needed in emergency rooms while Type O is being requested by major hospitals. In fact, Type O-, which covers seven percent of the population, is a universal type and donors who have it are permitted to donate to all blood types.
AB blood type is rare, and only three percent of American people have it. Type AB- people are the universal donors of plasma, which is regularly used in emergencies, in delivery of newborns, and in transfusions of massive amount.
Shortages in Iowa
Local blood banks in Iowa are in need of several blood types. Sarah McGill works as a registered nurse in Fort Dodge, and she admitted that the center experiences low supply in all blood components— especially platelets (MessengerNews.net, 2011). Among the 38% eligible donors, only 10% donate. The number is not even close to the expected number of supply, which should be circulated in more than ninety hospitals.
America’s Issue with Homosexuals
Blood ban against gays and bisexual men is also one of the causes of blood scarcity in United States.
Statistics reveal that there are 81% of white men and 63% of African-American who are acknowledged as gays and bisexuals who practice unprotected sex and can easily be contracted with HIV/AIDS.
Upon the disqualification of the group in 1977, as mandated by American Red Cross, there were also about 219,000 pints of blood turned away in 2010 (TheStylus.net, Centers for Disease Control).
Canada’s Blood Situation
A variant of Creuzfeldt-Jacob Disease (brain-wasting disease) put the country’s blood reserve in an alarming state as the health department ban people who have lived in United Kingdom, France, Western Europe and Saudi Arabia from donating blood. There will be a change in the questionnaire, and centers will start to ask if the donor spent a total of six months in the countries mentioned. This change in policy will take effect in mid-June of 2011.
Once a person is affected with variant CJD, he is expected to have psychiatric symptoms, motor difficulties, permanent vegetative state and death (CBCNews).
Greece’s Blood Shortage
In a 2007 study entitled “Factors that Motivate and Hinder Blood Donation in Greece” compiled by the British Blood Transfusion Society, the study revealed that the amount of blood donation in Greece was insufficient to meet the high demand of blood transfusions. This imbalance forced several blood banks (95 in total) to search for and recruit more donors using incentives.
After measuring and analyzing several variables (demographics, the donor’s behavior, incentives and risk perception), the study also came to a conclusion that incentives play a major role to encourage qualified people to donate blood.
It also showed that one of the reasons why Greece suffers from blood shortages is its poor recruitment process. They need some changes in the promotional system and provide more useful insights to their target group, especially young people and women.
UK’s Blood Dilemma
In United Kingdom, BBC News claims that seven thousand blood units are needed daily to meet the blood transfusion demands in National Health Service (NHS).
Donations are also expected to hit low, as people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) are banned from blood donation. ME is also called as chronic fatigue syndrome, and is best described as an illness associated with severe mental and physical exhaustion.
Dr. Charles Shepherd is a ME Association’s Medical Advisor, and he claimed that people with ME regularly want to donate blood. Although they only make up a small number of many donors, the number is expected to create a substantial decrease in supply.
Based on one source (NetDoctor), the 5% population is still in need of more blood, as the demand for more modern medicines and surgery continues to increase.
Blood Shortage in China
The annual growth rate of unpaid blood donors in Mainland China is supposed to be 10-15%. In Beijing, blood centers have only gathered 1.6 million milliliters of blood during the first week of November 2010, and the normal requirement was supposed to clock at 2.4 million milliliters.
That is why many health organizations and major hospitals decided to create appeals and solve the issue of blood shortage as soon as possible. Thousands of Chinese people voluntarily donate blood, but if the size of the whole nation is put into consideration, the 0.84% population is still very little to cover all those demands.
It is also believed that 90% of blood volunteers are college students and farmers. The supply is sometimes considered sufficient, but studies still show a vast number of population who are eligible to donate blood, but for some common reasons, they don’t agree to perform the heroic act.
Once natural disasters occur, the supplies automatically go down. More and more people are suffering because they cannot get the right amount of blood they need.
In 2008, the Wenchuan earthquake created a massive destruction in Southwest China. More than 60,000 people were dead and more than 350,000 people were injured. The supply of blood were needed everywhere and, luckily, there was an increase in donation. However, as days passed, the supply did not last long.
Because of these left and right shortages, the Red Cross Society in China decided to circulate social awareness and a Blood Donation Law was implemented for free use of blood supply.
The Blood Situation in the Philippines
In the Philippines, the Philippine National Red Cross (PRC) donates an annual percentage of 37% of the National Blood Collection. The demand for blood is also increasing every day, but PRC regularly assures that they have ample number of volunteers in each barangay in the country.
Their Red Cross 143 Program makes sure that 44 volunteers and 43 members, along with their team leader, promote welfare and well-being in every barangay. They are also expanding their donor recruitment to combat the low blood supply.
Blood Donation Issues in Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, the scarcity of blood reserves can be encountered with the implementation of a new mandate. Due to the scare brought by vCJD (variant Creutzfeldt -Jakob disease), people who have lived or stayed for three months in Western Europe, particularly in United Kingdom and France, from 1980 to 1996, are prohibited from donating blood. The country’s residents are also not allowed to donate blood in Canada (MontrealGazzette.com).
“I call upon all national health authorities to take advantage of this day to strengthen donor recruitment activities by encouraging community participation and ownership of the blood donor component of blood transfusion services.”
Those are the words expressed by WHO Regional Director, Dr. Luis Sambo, during the commemoration of World Blood Donor Day (celebrated every June 14th).
“A well-organized and coordinated national blood transfusion service based on voluntary unpaid blood donations and supported by effective quality management programmes can efficiently prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases and save lives of millions of people, particularly vulnerable groups such as mothers.”
Most developing countries in Africa suffer inevitable deaths due to blood shortages, and the supply of blood products is also inadequate. Women and children regularly become victims of the unfortunate situation. There are huge groups of people who are injured due to road and traffic accidents.
“The same picture is reflected in blood safety data in the African Region where most of the countries still collect more than 50% of donations from family or replacement donors. Only 10 out of the 46 countries collect all blood from voluntary unpaid donors.”
Only 33% were gathered in 2001, as compiled by WHO Global Database on Blood Safety. This percentage came from countries with low and medium income. Ninety-five percent of high-income countries donate blood, and these are all voluntary and unpaid.
In countries such as Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa – the HIV scare is low and the World Health Organization (WHO) is expecting to achieve such productive resort.
To ensure the steady progress of these beneficial results, a number of activities, such as the development of national policies and plans, the training of quality managers, the implementation of quality management programs and the development of materials to educate the general population about free will blood donation, are implemented.
The first and highest law must be the love of man to man. Homo homini Deus est – this is the supreme practical maxim, this is the turning point of the world’s History.
Why Blood Donation Should Be Paid For by the Government
There are different sides to look into, and there is a lot of point of views to consider. I can say “yes for government to pay blood donors” but is this the appropriate strategy to use?
- What are its primary benefits?
- Is it a long-term or short-term benefit?
- If this policy is implemented, what are its disadvantages?
While writing this chapter, I paused for a while and searched for the exact meaning of government in Dictionary.com. I found two definitions:
Definition #1: “Political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.”
Definition #2: “The form or system of rule by which a state, community, etc.”
Whichever definition you look at, it is the job of the government to lead its community in the good light. There should be equal human rights, adequate supply of food, water and shelter. Most importantly, the cost of health care should be within everyone’s reach.
I am only speaking my mind and I am aware that this so-called “blood business” began as early as 1960s and 1970s. As I see it, the government should make various changes in the blood system.
However, by looking at the cycle of the situation, it seems unfair to think that many people donate blood in banks at no cost, but it is the bank which will sell it in hospitals, then the hospital will sell it to you whenever you need it. This cycle goes on and on and on like no one care to change it.
In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy. (Karl Reiland)
There Must Be Change!
In a nation where there is law and order, you should no longer buy blood. Buying blood is nearly the same as paying your health care for four years without receiving benefits. When you are in need of hospitalization and blood, it should be the government who should shoulder the expenses, right?
If free hospitalization is too much and it may take some time to implement, one of the best campaigns that the government should delve into is to help those blood centers recruit more donors. As you see, blood shortages are everywhere. The demand for blood transfusion is always high and the supply is not at all enough.
The lack of promotional operations is one of the apparent reasons why this situation occurs. Everyone is not aware of the scarcity— whether it’s low, somewhat low or very low. Some of you want to help, but cannot understand the good benefits of donating blood and blood transfusion.
Before I sleep at night, I ask myself:
- Does the government create ads that talk about blood donation?
- Are people regularly encouraged by TV commercials to donate? If there are any commercials about blood, I rarely see one.
- Do people hear blood donation campaigns on the radio?
- Do people in urban cities see campaign billboards as they pass a busy road?
- How often do people participate in day-to-day blood donation lecture?
Pay the Donors
For many, it is morally inappropriate for the government to pay donors. Aside from the urge of dependency it plants in everyone’s minds, it can also alter the real meaning of altruism. Blood donation should be a voluntarily movement. If money is used to encourage more donors, do you think the genuine act of helping people still exist?
Yes, no, or perhaps.
The answer to that question still depends on who you are talking to. Each one has something to say and each is entitled to express their point of view.
Perhaps, the other questions to ask are:
- Does the government have the budget?
Is it ethically right if the government will pay blood donors?
- It is ethically wrong if the government will pay blood donors?
- What happens if the government will continue to pay?
What if the time comes when the government can no longer pay donors?
The budget should not be a problem.
In 2006, United States ranked second in terms of total healthcare spending (19.1%), followed by Norway and Germany. Switzerland topped the list with 19.6% of total government spending (World Health Organization, OECD).
The federal government spends over $600 billion on health care alone (Tax Policy Center) and I expect that a large portion of it should go to blood banks and other health institutions.
Just like what happened in Ghana weeks ago, the government donated new blood storage in Agona Swerdu Government Hospital in replacement of their improvised refrigerator. In the US, President Barack Obama increased the funding to support the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI).
Ethically speaking, there is nothing wrong if the government will award money to blood donors. In fact, there are three things that motivate people. These are:
Whether you dislike believing it without excluding the two other variables, money drives a number of people to act. Millions of people nowadays need money to meet the demands of living.
Truth is, it is no longer an issue of good or bad if money is used as an instrument to save lives. Let’s say you are paid $50 for a pint of blood. Do the math and this $50/pint can help three or four people.
If the blood is divided into components, more than four people will be saved. These four people are possible victims of accidents, war, traumas and diseases.
The world needs high supply of blood, but some countries can no longer waste time waiting for volunteers. Today is just the right time for the government to step in. If the payment system works and it can further benefit the whole nation, this campaign should continue. The said strategy clearly encourages more people, especially the younger generation, to donate blood on a regular basis.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
Do Not Pay the Donors
If that is the case, the best option the government can do to preserve the real meaning of altruism is to give extra support to the operational cost of blood banks. Banks need budget and more funding, and they can encourage more people if they use this support to regularly create promotional buzzes.
Why Blood Donation Should be Paid by Centers
There are always two sides of a coin.
The issue as to whether blood centers should pay donors or not created kicks and thrills left and right. Some of you think it is perfectly okay, but others still think it is wrong.
I, in particular, agree with the use of a payment system.
Before I give to you the sides of morality of the issue, let me first give you an introduction on how paid blood donation works.
The Ropes of Paid Blood Donation
It only began when the demand in plasma was needed as a treatment in the mid-1980s. The demand until now remains too high, but luckily, its donors are also growing rapidly.
Officials in plasma industry claim that there are about 1.5 to two million paid donors and about seventy percent of this number donates on a regular basis. You can donate your plasma to a maximum of 104 times annually (Utah Stories).
Be a blood and organ donor. All it costs is a little love. (Author Unknown)
All About Plasma
Plasma is the yellow component of the blood containing protein and it is the overall 55% of blood’s volume. United States and Japan have the biggest reserves of this blood component. Some centers in those countries even consider plasma as the most profitable blood component.
Benefits of Plasma
Whether it is used for transfusion or just for research, plasma has a range of benefits, which include:
- Raw materials in manufacturing medicines
- Treatment for patients with hemophilia
- Treatment for trauma injuries, such as shock and severe burns
- An important component in manufacturing products that gives remedy to tetanus, rabies, measles, rubella and hepatitis B
How Plasma Extraction is Performed
The procedures in plasma extraction are the same as donating blood. The only difference is that its entire process requires you to wait for a longer period of time. If you can only give a whole blood only after eight weeks, in plasma donation, you are allowed to donate twice a week (only if you are feeling 100% healthy).
Here are the things you have to undergo once you have decided to donate plasma:
- First, you need to search for banks near you. You can use the Internet or your phone directory to locate the plasma center which will pay you.
- Go there and present your verification ID.
- Once approved, you will undergo a series of physical examinations. If your current weight permits you, you are allowed to donate 690 to 880 ml.
- You will undergo plasmapheresis, wherein blood is extracted, goes into a machine to remove the plasma and the other components of blood are reinfused back to you.
- After the procedure, the bank will either pay you $20 or $50 for each bottle. This bottle will be stored in a container and be frozen. From there, it will be delivered in pharmaceutical companies and will be sold for $300 – 1700.
It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. (Tom Brokaw)
The Immorality of Getting Paid
I respect your decision if you are against paid blood donation. As I said in the early chapters of this book, blood donation should be a free humanitarian work. It should be selfless.
Once the payment system is put on the line, it seems as if you are allowing other people to label you as a commercial machine. Money, in exchange for blood, tends to inject a wrong seed in everyone’s mind. A lot of people will be dependent on the system. These people will only see blood donation as nothing but an extra source of money.
Back in 1986, an author in Money Magazine exposed the profit chain in paid plasma donation. Andrea Rock said donors receive $57.50 from blood centers. Hospitals pay these centers $88 for each bottle and before the patients can use the plasma for transfusion, they should pay around $375 – 600.
Three years after, a report by Gilbert M. Gaul also unveiled the so-called “stock exchange” in paid-plasma. Gaul’s investigation ran for twelve months, and he found out that a number of blood centers needed to beg people for some donation. The center would then sell the pint of blood at a hefty price and could earn roughly $50 million every year (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Another issue of “crisis” was brought in public by sociologist Leon Anderson in his study conducted between years 1999 – 2004. He and his co-authors picked 411 college students in Ohio University, age 18 to 22 years old. Ten percent of the group has sold their plasma for $9 – 20 (more males than females) and only three out of five were Red Cross donors.
“I would have bet that the poorest students would have the highest rates of paid donation. I was stunned when that wasn’t the case.”
Part of the findings revealed that those students who sold plasma hailed from families in which the common ground for the income is $50,000. They are also employed in part-time jobs. The most shocking part of the study came when it showed that more paid donors appeared to ingest liquor five or more times per week. More than one third of this paid-donors group also admitted to smoking tobacco (Science Blog).
Anderson says, “These two, admittedly limited, health-related lifestyle indicators suggest that student plasma donors may indeed have less healthy lifestyle practices than other students.”
As his recommendation, Anderson wanted those non-profit and profit centers to work hand in hand with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make sure that the quality of the blood remains high without sacrificing the overall health of the donors.
The Anderson study is a revelation. It does tell us the other negative side of paid plasma donation. There are already 1.5 or 2 million donors worldwide and some plasma centers are still allowed to perform the payment system. At some point, this type of strategy has done something right. However, the consequence it brings to the younger generation is damaging.
Pay the Donors: To Continue or Not?
More and more donors are expected to flood the blood centers for money. More donors means more lives will be saved. It is inappropriate to blame blood centers which pay people in exchange for their plasma. The strategy allows them to recruit more volunteers, and for that, there are no reasons to discontinue it.
I agree with Anderson’s advice in this part. Blood centers no longer have control over people as they exit the building. These centers need help from FDA to extend the campaign on public health.
Open your heart – open it wide; someone is standing outside. (Mary Engelbreit)
Why Blood Donors Should be Paid
Like I said in the previous chapters, there is nothing wrong if donors are paid just to save lives. It is even a good campaign for people who have plenty of something to help those who do not have much. The payment system is also not abused, because this type of system is only used in plasma donation.
Perhaps, it is not entirely a question of whether the donors should be paid, rather, will the donor accept the pay?
It Is Your Choice!
The blood donation law says anyone can donate blood even without consent from their parents, as long as the person has reached his age of majority (US Legal). If my interpretation is correct, this age of majority relates to any individuals who are treated as an adult with legal rights and privileges. In most states, this age of majority clocks around 18 or 21.
Once you have decided to donate blood at such age, you are given the right to accept or not to accept whenever someone makes an offer. If you regularly see donating blood as an act of altruism, you are not easily motivated by money. You will choose to donate plasma for free.
Accept the Money
Mike is the 19 year-old son of Mr. David Black, an owner a hotel in New Jersey. His friend phoned and informed him that there is a paid plasma campaign nearby. Mike agreed to go.
He underwent a series of physical examinations, and while answering a form, there was a question which made Mike pause for a while and think.
Question: Thanks for donating your plasma. $25 is paid to you after this procedure. Will you accept it or not?
Mike scratched his head, looking a bit hesitant, but just put a checkmark in the box that says YES.
Can you blame Mike?
To Accept or Not To Accept?
Anyone has no right to blame if you accept the money. Do not feel guilty or be worried about other’s opinion. Just consider $20 or $50 a simple reward for your honorable act.
There are times when money is a good type of reward. There is nothing wrong if you will spend it to buy a new pair of shoes for yourself or new toys for your children.
What tick me in paid donation scheme are the effects it brings to the younger generation. As you have read in the previous chapter, some students only use the money to buy liquors and cigarettes.
It is morally wrong to abuse the payment system used by blood donation centers. It is not an income-generating job.
You might have read some articles online that say paid plasma donation is a good moneymaking activity during summertime or when you are jobless. But you are also putting your health at risk when too much plasma is removed from you.
It is for your own good if I say that you still need to find a decent work to sustain your everyday needs/wants. If you are unemployed, there are plenty of ways to earn quick cash (Coupon Sherpa).
- Clean other’s garden
- Walk dogs
- Choose to babysit
- Sell books, pens, T-shirts etc. in online shopping sites such as eBay or Amazon
- Deliver phone books for $7-10 per hour
- Apply as a census worker
- Wash cars
- Teach English online
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. (Kahlil Gibran)
In this chapter, you will read inspiring real-life stories, as told by real people. These people are survivors. They suffered from blood disorders and without those paid blood donation projects organized by charitable institutions, their struggles would have continued and they could have died.
Take time to read their stories below. Learn how they survived the test and handled the situation with ease. Their lives are full of valuable lessons and that is the one and only thing you will cherish the most.
Hopefully, you also realize how big a difference you can make by just donating blood.
First Story: Matt
At a very young age, two things were quite clear to Matt Stinger: he had hemophilia and it was not going to hold him back.
The 24 year-old Hatboro, Pennsylvania native is now a registered nurse, working in the emergency room of one of the same hospitals—Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia—that treated him as a child. Matt has even seen some of his former doctors while walking the halls, a sight he believes his physicians would have never predicted.
Matt’s earliest memories of his health extend back to elementary school, where he simply remembers being different. His parents— Susan, formerly with the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation, and Arthur, who worked for Philadelphia Electric for 29 years, passing away in June from pancreatic cancer— took some of the standard precautions for a child with hemophilia to help keep their son safe. From kindergarten to third grade, Matt wore a helmet and knee pads almost all the time when at school or playing, though he characterizes it as no big deal. “I had a lot of friends from an early age that accepted it,” he says. Even when Matt was forced to use a wheelchair at school due to his ankles—his joint was prone to bleeding—his classmates clamored to volunteer to push him around for the day.
His folks helped make it easy for the students as well, “My parents use to come to class and demonstrate what hemophilia was,” Matt says. “My parents broke it down into kid terms, explaining why I wore a helmet and what infusions were.” Matt’s parents created a presentation that turned each factor into a construction worker, each with his or her own unique job to complete. However, construction worker number eight was always missing. Matt has Hemophilia A, so, they explained, he needed to add factor VIII by infusing. Susan and Arthur also involved their friends and community in Matthew’s illness. Susan recalls the time when Matthew was little and using cryoprecipitate, in which many of Arthur’s coworkers donated plasma in one of three centers within an hour of their home.
While many cases of hemophilia are hereditary, Matt’s diagnosis came out of the blue for his parents, who have no family history and whose older son does not have the disease. Deemed a random mutation, his parents came home from the hospital and looked hemophilia up in the dictionary, but were still unsure about what it actually was. To see their baby boy, who they thought was healthy, end up in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) right after he was born, was frightening, but Matt says they took it as a challenge and vowed to make their lives as normal as possible.
Matt needed to replace his Factor VIII his whole life, and today, he usually infuses three times a week. Recently, he’s had problems with his left elbow, so for several months now, he has infused every day. The medication Matt uses allows him to complete the five-minute infusion at home, but he could do it remotely, given that the medication does not need to be refrigerated.
While Matt does need to be careful, having hemophilia is not huge interruption in his life, especially with the therapy he is taking. “When I was younger, it was completely different,” he adds, explaining how he needed to push 60CCs of factor, which would take upwards of 15 minutes. Now, the constitution is just 6 (mls), and Matt credits advances in manufacturing and technology for bringing this change.
As a child, he was not able to play football or hockey, but Matt maintains that his parents were good at figuring out what worked for him. Matt played soccer and t-ball when he was younger, and then started swimming when he was eight, continuing throughout high school, where he also picked up golf.
Matt admits that his family did have to adjust, “but, overall we tried to have as few interruptions as possible.” When the family visited Disney World, they needed to make arrangements with the hotel to store his medication on dry ice, but Matt credits his parents for doing a great job of not letting his hemophilia hold them back from anything and they have learned to adapt. He adds that they taught him to manage his disease at a very young age, enabling him to learn the importance of taking care of his health and allowing him attend college and live on his own in a dorm. Susan, calling Matthew a “character,” recalls that he was able to infuse himself by the time he was six or seven, and demonstrated a bit of a capitalist spirit by charging neighborhood kids $.25 to watch until his brother, Patrick, informed his parents of his sibling’s entrepreneurism.
In high school, Matt volunteered with the ambulance squad, going on calls, learning first aid and becoming CPR certified, which is where he caught the medical bug. After earning a degree in psychology, Matt went on to become a registered nurse after completing a 14-month course for his Bachelor’s in nursing. Having a self-proclaimed love for the medical field, Matt now works several 12-hour night shifts a week in the hospital’s Level I trauma center.
Matt says he never had to leave a shift because of bleeding. Far from holding him back, he says he has had opportunities that others do not have. Frequently, he will work with children who have hemophilia or other chronic medical conditions who come into the ER.
He says, “To connect on some level with those families is pretty neat.”
Matt adds that some parents never think their child will be able to do anything, so in that sense he is a role model. He is also able to empathize with what the family and patient are feeling when they are faced with a serious medical illness.
Matt has also been able to give back to the hemophilia community through volunteer work with the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation, giving the occasional speech and stuffing envelopes. For five summers during college, Matt also worked as a counselor at the Double H Ranch, a hole-in-the-wall camp in upstate New York, funded by actor Paul Newman for children with chronic illnesses, such as HIV, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia and cancer.
As a child, Matt attended the camp, which he describes as a, “really cool experience” and exploration was encouraged under the watchful eyes of doctors and nurses. For starters, children at the camp can participate in a ropes course and use a zip line— two activities he was not allowed to do as a kid. The kids also visit an amusement park, work with arts and crafts, and, of course, make the obligatory ‘smores around the campfire.
Second Story: Jaime
Let me introduce myself: my name is Jaime van den Berg, I am 25 years old, and live in the Netherlands. My girlfriend Sabrina and I are very happy and recently moved in together. I have von Willebrand Disease, an inherited bleeding disorder, and recently went to my first meeting of the von Willebrand patient group of the Netherlands Hemophilia Society, the NVHP.
During the meeting, I was asked what type of von Willebrand I am suffering from and I could not really answer that question. I know I have von Willebrand and have been able to handle that quite well. I do not see it as an obstacle and would not want to call it that. The only thing I find frustrating is that my parents did not allow me to join the soccer club when I was young. I am sure I would have made the Dutch national team by now. Soccer was not going to work, so I had to choose a different sport, which was swimming. I did that for a number of years, after which I felt a need for a challenge and started canoeing. First on calm waters, and then in the ocean. By the time I was 15 years old, I was a wild water canoe instructor in Slovenia.
Looking back, my parents should have just let me play soccer, since that would have been conveniently close to the Academic Hospital in Leiden. Instead, I was 15 and in Slovenia, without my parents. Despite not having been able to start my soccer career, I have done everything I wanted and have not allowed von Willebrand to stand in my way. I have conquered the wildest rivers, climbed the highest mountains in Europe, traveled through Australia by myself for three months, and enjoyed snowboarding, despite getting stuck on a mountain for a night.
As I said before, my girlfriend and I recently moved in together. To me, von Willebrand Disease has become part of me, or better, has always been part of me. I have just accepted that it is there, since you cannot change it anyway. But I do understand that this is different for other people, such as my girlfriend. After all, she has not witnessed the hundreds of trips to the hospital, although she has been present for a few of those, after a motorcycle accident and a kitesurf mishap, so she is getting used to them.
Third Story: Judy
Judy Tretsven-Parker of Wisconsin shares her story about living with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (A1AD), a genetic condition that affects the lungs and makes it difficult to breath, often leading to death.
Can you tell us about your A1AD?
A1AD is an inherited (passed down from parents) disorder that causes low levels or no alpha-1 antitrypsin protein in the blood. I suffer from the most severe type of A1AD, called “type ZZ.” People with type ZZ generally have only about 10 percent of the normal amount of alpha-1 antitrypsin in their blood. In short, the deficiency in those of us who are genetic type ZZ cannot produce the protein to protect our lungs. The air and pollutants we breathe eat away our lungs until we die. If left untreated, and without living a very guarded life, patients only survive into their mid-40s. A1AD is otherwise described as genetic emphysema. The inherited disorder is more deadly than emphysema caused by smoking.
How were you diagnosed?
In 1984, I was 28 years old and had just moved to Alaska with my husband. I had been sick with colds, bronchitis and lung infections for a while, but it wasn’t until I went to my new physician in Alaska that I actually was diagnosed.
After seeing me a few times and prescribing antibiotics that didn’t seem to help, my new doctor told me he had just read an article about a disease and he wanted to test me for it. A simple blood test confirmed that I had alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. I was given just 10 years to live.
I started alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor treatments in 1989 after seeing a television news show about the new therapy. I contacted my doctor and started treatments a few months later, when alpha-1 proteinase inhibitor (A1PI) became publicly available for the first time.
In your opinion, how did you beat the odds?
Living in a new state, with a new job, no family or friends nearby and with a husband away working constantly, I could have resigned myself to a limited and short life. Instead, I chose to live the life I wanted, regardless of my grim prognosis. While working full-time, I decided to enroll in college. I was determined to get a better job. At school and at my new job, I made new friends and told them about my illness.
My Alaskan friends promised me that if I lived to be 50, they would come celebrate my birthday with me. And they did it – friends came from all across the country, and we had a wonderful time. I never expected to see this birthday, and my friends were here to share it with me.
I reached this milestone and continue to do well because of four things:
- The treatments with A1PI
- My doctors
- A positive attitude
- Taking care of myself by exercising
I am extremely grateful that I never needed a major lung surgery, or any lung-related surgery.
Did you ever experience any issues with access to treatment?
In 2001, while living in Alaska, I was visiting family and friends in Wisconsin. Local area hospitals/clinics that I called did not want to take the liability of handling my case while I visited the area. They were not familiar with the disease or the replacement therapy. After several unsuccessful phone calls, I contacted a lifelong friend who is an employee of Midlefort Clinic in Barron, Wisconsin and with the help of my friend, I was able to get my infusions there. Whenever I’d come back to Wisconsin in the past, I would have to double or triple infusions, before I left Alaska. But after a week, I would have very low levels of protein and it would be very hard on my lungs.
I am really grateful to have had the opportunity for local treatment because this ensured a consistent level of protein, which is important in keeping my lungs from further deterioration. Because of my lifelong friend, I could travel to Wisconsin to see family and friends without the stress and worries about low levels of protection to my lungs. This was truly a breakthrough for me.
How is your current health?
With A1PI therapy, my health has stabilized and the deterioration of my lungs should now follow the patterns of the normal aging process, as long as I continue with replacement therapy. I receive immunizations for flu and pneumonia to stay healthy. I also receive early treatment for lung infections by seeing my doctor at the first sign of a cold or other lung problem, and I avoid tobacco smoke, noxious fumes, dust and pollution.
After 20 years of living in Alaska, my husband and I took medical retirements and moved back to our home state of Wisconsin in 2003, where we live in the country. We spend our days working in the rock flower gardens, caring for our home and each other, and enjoying our families and friends.
How are you helping to promote A1AD awareness?
Our hope is to raise the awareness by informing the community, physicians and nurses about the symptoms and treatment of A1AD. In my 23 years of having A1AD, I have encountered many, many frustrating moments when dealing with doctors and nurses that were not familiar with A1AD. I want to help make things easier for other Alphas.
Since moving back to Wisconsin, I have brought A1AD awareness to the Siren Clinic, which infused me from 2003-2005. In the fall of 2005, I had a port-a-cath implanted and the Cumberland Memorial Hospital trained me in self-infusing, so I can do my own. In February 2006, I helped arrange for a sibling to receive his infusions at Osceola Hospital. In September 2006, I became an A1AD support group leader of the “Wisconsin Alpha Pack,” covering the Northern Lights Region (Northern Wisconsin). Our mission is to offer support to those in the Wisconsin area affected by A1AD bring about awareness in the local community.
What advice do you have for people who may suffer from alpha-1 but have not been diagnosed?
People with asthma, chronic bronchitis or shortness of breath should consider being tested. The screening test consists of taking a blood sample and analyzing it to see if a person lacks the alpha-1 antitrypsin protein.
Understand that this is a rare disease and your physician may have never heard of it or may not know much about it. Many folks go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, that is why I want to promote community awareness of A1AD. If you can be diagnosed early and take care of yourself, you can live a good life.
Successful Blood Donation Campaigns
In Portland, Oregon: The Civil War Drive
Rivals for Life – For the ninth time in a row since 2002, the American Red Cross, Lane Memorial Bank, Oregon State University (OSU) Alumni Association and University of Oregon (UO) Alumni Association joined hand-in-hand for a two-week blood donation campaign before the start of holiday period.
The award-winning public service event between two university rivalries took place in two venues. For OSU Campus Blood Drives (Beavers), donors are encouraged to come in Memorial Union Ballroom on November eighth until the eleventh while the UO Blood Drives’ (Ducks) place will be on Erb Memorial Union four days after (November 15 – 19). The rules are simple: the team with the most number of donors win and would also receive a Civil War trophy.
The Results: Ducks won!
Ducks collected 4,482 while Beavers was only a short of 579 donors. That’s a total of 8,385 units of blood, platelets and plasma.
In Dubai, United Arab Emirates
March 20, 2011 – The leading real estate developers announced a successful blood donation drive, which was held at Twin Towers in Deira. The Dubai Investment Properties (DIP) Operations Manager, Mr. Deepak Chawla, expressed these kind words.
“We commend Rouse for organising the blood donation drive and are happy to wholeheartedly support it. Twin Towers was happy to offer them all the facilities and services required to make this blood donation a mega success. Our staff and other tenants at Twin Towers came out in big numbers to support Rouse’s blood donation campaign.”
Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something. (Author Unknown)
Unsuccessful Paid Blood Donation Campaign
Blood donation campaigns, especially in paid plasma donations, only become unsuccessful if the campaign has weak promotional ads and is abused.
There are some people who no longer see blood donation as an act of unselfishness. To them, paid blood donation becomes a job, their only way to gain extra money to meet everyday needs.
Ethics of Blood Donation
Even blood donation has code of ethics. These ethical viewpoints are created to protect your several rights as a donor. You, as the donor, should be aware and be advised to understand the scope of your obligation. You do not only go to these blood banks to save lives or let them extract blood from you. You should know where to put yourself once you step inside the blood bank.
Whether the campaign is paid or unpaid, you still need to make sure that all of the medical practitioners involved in the campaign must protect your overall welfare. As stated in the third ethical law, “Any procedures relating to the administration to a donor of any substance for increasing the concentration of specific blood components should be in compliance with internationally accepted standards.”
As amended by the General Assembly of ISBT on 2006, there are currently eighteen ethical principles and rules. Eleven of those focuses on blood centers (1 – 11) while the remaining seven (12 – 18) cover the rights of those hospitals and of those patients.
Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him. (Albert Schweitzer)
- Blood donation, including haematopoietic tissues for transplantation, shall, in all circumstances, be voluntary and non-remunerated; no coercion should be brought to bear upon the donor. A donation is considered voluntary and non-remunerated if the person gives blood, plasma or cellular components of his/her own free will and receives no payment for it, either in the form of cash, or in kind which could be considered a substitute for money. This would include time off work other than the reasonable need for the donation and travel. Small tokens, refreshments and reimbursements of direct travel costs are compatible with voluntary, non-remunerated donation. The donor should provide informed consent to the donation of blood or blood components and to the subsequent (legitimate) use of the blood by the transfusion service.
- A profit motive should not be the basis for the establishment and running of a blood service.
- The donor should be advised of the risks connected with the procedure; the donor’s health and safety must be protected. Any procedures relating to the administration to a donor of any substance for increasing the concentration of specific blood components should be in compliance with internationally accepted standards.
- Anonymity between donor and recipient must be ensured, except in special situations and the confidentiality of donor information assured.
- The donor should understand the risks to others of donating infected blood and his or her ethical responsibility to the recipient.
- Blood donation must be based on regularly reviewed medical selection criteria and not entail discrimination of any kind, including gender, race, nationality or religion. Neither donor nor potential recipient has the right to require that any such discrimination be practiced.
- Blood must be collected under the overall responsibility of a suitably qualified, registered medical practitioner.
- All matters related to whole blood donation and haemapheresis should be in compliance with appropriately defined and internationally accepted standards.
- Donors and recipients should be informed if they have been harmed.
- Blood is a public resource and access should not be restricted.
- Wastage should be avoided in order to safeguard the interests of all potential recipients and the donor.
- Patients should be informed of the known risks and benefits of blood transfusion and/or alternative therapies and have the right to accept or refuse the procedure. Any valid advance directive should be respected.
- In the event that the patient is unable to give prior informed consent, the basis for treatment by transfusion must be in the best interests of the patient.
- Transfusion therapy must be given under the overall responsibility of a registered medical practitioner.
- Genuine clinical need should be the only basis for transfusion therapy.
- There should be no financial incentive to prescribe a blood transfusion.
- As far as possible, the patient should receive only those particular components (cells, plasma, or plasma derivatives) that are clinically appropriate and afford optimal safety.
- Blood transfusion practices established by national or international health bodies and other agencies competent and authorized to do so should be in compliance with this code of ethics.