Thursday, October 29, 2015

Paying for (imported) blood products in Britain

Yesterday's post about paying for blood plasma in Canada reminded me of this story that The Guardian ran earlier in the year:
Blood money: is it wrong to pay donors?
"In some countries, people get paid for giving blood. And in the UK, we have to buy in plasma. But is safety compromised when money changes hands?"

"A recent black-and-white documentary, Blood, about a mobile blood collection unit in rural Russia, shows scenes familiar to many: dusty halls, anxious donors queuing to register, the occasional struggle to find a vein. Cups of tea, too, albeit just for the team.
Then there are the differences. Donors sit upright on uncomfortable, hard chairs. Some have just come off night shift; others have no money for food. Staff are concerned about how many units will test positive for blood-borne viruses. Potential donors worry about being accepted. A woman without an up-to-date residency certificate is turned away. A man insists he should be allowed to donate; he is broke and desperate for the 850 roubles (£8.85) payment. It is clear that most donors come for the money: for some, it is a lifeline.
Russia isn’t alone in paying donors – the US, China and Germany do, too. In Britain, however, we donate 2m units a year, with no payment – following the World Health Organisation recommendation that blood donation be voluntary. This is not only for altruistic reasons, but also for safety. “The safest blood donors are voluntary, non-remunerated donors from low-risk populations,” says the WHO.
"Nevertheless, thousands of NHS patients receive blood plasma from paid donors. This contains clotting factors and antibodies. Thousands of individual donations go into each dose of clotting factors – used to treat haemophiliacs who are bleeding – or immunoglobulins (antibodies) used to treat people with autoimmune diseases, severely damaged immune systems, or some serious infections.
After the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow disease, some recipients of UK plasma products developed the fatal brain disease variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob-disease (vCJD). As there is as yet no adequate screening test for this, British plasma has not been used since 2002, when we began to import it from the US."

HT Alex Nichifor

1 comment:

Afshin said...

That post also reminded me of an article that I read a while ago: "Selling plasma to survive: how over a million American families live on $2 per day"