Blood donation: Can you "withdraw" (e.g. discounted or free) from the blood bank?

I’ve donated a fair amount of blood over the years, but not exactly sure how much. There’s an old joke about making a withdrawal from the blood bank. Silly metaphors aside, does the amount of blood you have donated in the past mean anything if you end up needing blood? For example, if you have given 20 pints of blood over the past 15 years to the American Red Cross and you suddenly find yourself in the hospital needing blood, do you get a discount off your bill for the blood (or even get the blood for free, as a “withdrawal”) or otherwise get beneficial treatment, such as first dibs on blood or priority handling of your supply, than someone who never donated a drop in their life?

I only know about blood donation in the UK, and the answer here is an unequivocal no. Hell no.

After all, lots of people can’t donate blood (I can’t, for example, I don’t weigh enough) but that doesn’t make them less deserving recipients.

Of course, I do not know how this works in the USA, but I’d think it best to consider giving blood to be a contribution, not an investment.

Not normally, no.

However, I work for a municipality, and when city workers donate blood, blood services are free for them in City-operated hospitals.

Just a weird little perk; while I don’t know anyone who’s used the benefit, I suppose a few must.

I don’t know if you can do this in all situations, but you can donate blood specifically to be used by yourself in an upcoming surgery. I think it’s mainly for people with very rare blood types where it’s difficult to find a donor. So in that specific instance giving blood can be like a savings account.

No. There used to be programs set up like that, but they were discontinued because they put people who couldn’t donate or didn’t have lots of friends and family to donate for them at a disadvantage.

It used to be said that Red Cross blood was free, altho there was a handling/administrative charge. (no advantage/disadvantage to donate/not donate.) Students used to donate outside the Red Cross system for a little extra money.

If you’re responding to Ludovic, you are incorrect. You still can bank your own blood before surgery in at least some places. I thought it was still fairly common for elective surgery but may be wrong about that. My son did it about 15 years ago, though that may be out of date.

In any case the argument (I realize it may not be yours but something you are just reporting) that this puts others at a disadvantage is pretty weak. Anything that increases blood donation helps everyone that needs blood. Yes it’s true that some person who has friends who donate helps that person specifically more than anyone else, and in some cases it might be a deciding factor as to which individual in need right now gets the blood. But that cost would seem to be vastly outweighed by increasing the total of donated blood.

Ignoring friends and family, the argument that one should not be able to donate blood for one’s own use in forthcoming surgery because it helps that individual and is “unfair” to others is completely ludicrous IMO.

The argument is that giving some sort of quid-pro-quo “benefit”, either direct or indirect, in exchange for donating blood encourages people to lie on the health questionnaire or otherwise donate when ineligible, leading to riskier blood.

How can someone donating blood for their own use impose a risk on anyone else? They could always discard any unused self-donated blood. And having own-use blood would free up the blood that patient would otherwise have used for the use of others.

Locally, if you donate, you can decide whether to put it on account or to just donate it freely. The blood isn’t kept separate, because it won’t keep, but later the bank will provide a similar amount of blood at a discount to you or your direct family. Sometimes friends, family, and co-workers will donate for a specific person who needs it.

I wasn’t talking about autologous donations, which are made shortly before a surgery and used only for the donor. I was talking about getting credit for blood donated at a previous time. One thing to keep in mind here is that there is never a charge for the blood itself.

I remember years ago (40 or so), that if you donated blood you were then able to get it at no cost later. I remember donating for my mother, who was in Evanston Hospital at the time, and knowing that if I should need blood in the next year I was covered. There was also some benefit to her because I had donated. If they still have that in the Chicago area, I don’t know, but they don’t have a system like that where I live now.

At our blood bank yes. They have what they call the blood assurance program. You donate blood once a year and you and your family get any needed blood for the next year either free or discounted(can’t remember which).

Since a couple of people have said that this does happen, I should clarify that my previous posts refer to the American Red Cross. It’s by far the biggest blood supplier in the US, but not the only one. I just forget about the other ones because they don’t give me a paycheck. :slight_smile:

But then in the UK you don’t have to pay to receive blood, either. At least not directly - we all fund the NHS, after all.