PDA

View Full Version : Is donating blood a sensible thing to do?


astro
11-13-2002, 12:03 AM
I've donated blood a few times in the past and my layman's (probably incorrect) recollection is that if you give blood you are protected for a year or so after you give and if you need blood you get it free which is a good thing as hospitals (or the Blood Banks) apparently charge large sums for the bood that people give them for free. Selling blood is apparently a very big business.

Maryland Faces Severe Blood Shortage; Cost of Blood and Blood Products Rise (http://www.mdhospitals.org/MarylandPubs/MDHlthCr_1100.pdf )

According to Janis Smith, director of laboratory and hospital services for the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Red Cross, a hospitalís cost for one unit of blood depends on several
factors, including the volume of blood purchased. The list price for a unit of blood purchased through the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Red Cross is $174.00

I would imagine this wholesale price to the hospital probably undergoes some significant, hospital style price increases beyond $ 174.00 a unit as it passes through the hospital's hands into the patient

My question is this. If there are often chronic blood shortages (one of the reasons offered for blood drives) and blood banks can sell my blood for $ 175.00 a unit why don't they simply go to a pay system. Is the little blood cost insurance policy worth the value of the donation?

Bryan Ekers
11-13-2002, 12:08 AM
Hmmm, I give a lot of blood. Maybe I should start going south of the border and cashing in.

don't ask
11-13-2002, 01:00 AM
And don't forget that you should be a regular donor anyway just for the sake of your own health. In some studies (http://members.tripod.com/~hemochromatose/onderwerpen/bbc210999.html) blood donors have much lower incidence of life threatening disease.

Bryan Ekers
11-13-2002, 01:04 AM
Originally posted by don't ask
And don't forget that you should be a regular donor anyway just for the sake of your own health. In some studies (http://members.tripod.com/~hemochromatose/onderwerpen/bbc210999.html) blood donors have much lower incidence of life threatening disease.

I guess that proves what I suspected all along: donuts are good for you.

Monster104
11-13-2002, 01:29 AM
I think it's time for me to start selling my blood on Ebay. After all, I have AB- blood (about 1% of people have this blood type!), so I might be able to get SOMETHING for my blood...

Enough giving part of me away for free! I WANT COMPENSATION!

astro
11-13-2002, 09:36 AM
I've donated blood and I will continue to give blood. Everyone that donates blood is a wonderful and generous human being who is kind to small animals, so let's put that to bed.

My real interest is the future feasibility of the US blood donor system insofar as there always seems to be chronic shortages of blood (which is often the rationale for community "blood drives").
I guess a better way to ask the question would be - Is a blood donor system primarily based on an appeal to altruism, the best way for have enough blood for medical emergencies given that there always seem to be chronic shortages? If only 5% or less (see link) of the total projected population of potential blood doners is donating blood. Is the donor system really the best model for collecting large quantiites of blood?

If it's all about supply and demand in the end and if there is a chronic lack of supply what is morally, ethically or conceptually wrong with converting to a mainly fee paid system for blood donation? I am no maven on blood donation. I am asking the basic question of why the donor system is best if there are always chronic shortages.

StGermain
11-13-2002, 10:59 AM
don't ask - I'd guess that donating blood doesn't make you healthy, but rather, they do a mini-phyiscal before you're allowed to donated, therefore weeding out many sick people. That's why they seem to live longer.

astro - I am no longer eligible to donate blood, but I don't really think there's a huge problem with shortages, except in the case of large disasters, when the blood supply is hard-pressed. Yes, I'm sure the supply gets low sometimes, but I haven't ever heard of people dying because of a lack of blood. I think a sufficient number of people come through when needed. And they do have people that sell their plasma , so that service is out there. I don't think they pay enough to make it worthwhile for the average person. Either you choose to go through the inconvenience and pain of donating blood because you like helping others, or you don't give. How many people's habits would be swayed by a $5-10 payment? Not many that would be healthy enough to donate, I bet.

StG

bup
11-13-2002, 02:24 PM
I *believe* the Red Cross doesn't give money because people would be too tempted to lie in order to give blood.

RTFirefly
11-13-2002, 03:02 PM
One problem with moving away from donors to sellers of blood is that those most likely to sell their blood are poor. And in the USA at least, poor people are more likely to have assorted health problems, including diseases that make it a bad idea to put their blood in other people's veins.

Voluntary donation increases donors' willingness to honestly answer the screening questions, since they have nothing to lose by being turned down.

Freudian Slit
11-13-2002, 04:11 PM
I remember watching Michael Moore's movie, "Roger and Me" and there's a scene were a guy talks about selling his own blood to get money...and I know I've heard stories of college students selling blood for money...Have people ever been given money for blood in the past? Perhaps just not through Red Cross...:)

Bricker
11-13-2002, 04:24 PM
In days past, people were paid for their blood.

As suggested above, this model is no longer considered viable because of the health issues; people being paid have a great incentive to lie about past sexual history or residency.


= Rick

kunilou
11-13-2002, 04:29 PM
It's not just in days past. There is a commercial blood bank right here in my fair city. The going rate isn't much (about $20 last time I heard) but it's enough for some people to lie about their health and history.

Telemark
11-13-2002, 04:37 PM
I believe that it is illegal to sell blood, but you can be paid to donate platelettes, which can be done much more frequently. I know it's been discussed here and someone posted the appropriate cites, but I can't find them now.

don't ask
11-13-2002, 04:44 PM
Originally posted by StGermain
don't ask - I'd guess that donating blood doesn't make you healthy, but rather, they do a mini-phyiscal before you're allowed to donated, therefore weeding out many sick people. That's why they seem to live longer.

That's not what I was saying. The article I linked to says, in part:

"People should donate blood to eliminate an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke brought on by eating too much iron, researchers have said.

The suggestion came after scientists established that one person in 10 has double the risk of such conditions thanks to a faulty gene that interferes with the body's ability to regulate iron levels."

Telemark
11-13-2002, 04:57 PM
I did a Google search but didn't come up with anything that clearly stated the legality of selling blood vs platelets. Any pointers?

BobbySuezQ
11-13-2002, 09:49 PM
Originally posted by StGermain
don't ask - I'd guess that donating blood doesn't make you healthy, but rather, they do a mini-phyiscal before you're allowed to donated, therefore weeding out many sick people. That's why they seem to live longer.

no no no. actually it's because after you donate a pint of blood it does not go straight into the banks for transfusions. It gets screened for various diseases. Often times a person is contacted to let them know when something unusual has shown up and to get their buts to a doctor.

As for paying for it, I'd think the blood banks would be getting the short end of the stick for the reasons cited here that people in poor health might be inclined to give a pint for cash and it may not be able to be used.

I don't have my bill handy, but I believe my insurance was billed about $150 for 4 pints of blood. So it really wasn't a gouging. This was 3 years ago.

Knighted Vorpal Sword
11-14-2002, 11:13 AM
Originally posted by StGermain
but I don't really think there's a huge problem with shortages, except in the case of large disasters, when the blood supply is hard-pressed. Yes, I'm sure the supply gets low sometimes, but I haven't ever heard of people dying because of a lack of blood.

Usually (at least around here) there are shortages in the summer and around holiday time. People are away or too busy to donate. I also have not heard of anyone dying, but hospitals have gotten to the point where they will postpone elective surgery.