Give blood; give life. The old slogan still holds true today, but the key word is “give”, as in not sell. The idea of cash for blood isn’t new, it has been popular in the US for many years. In Canada the trend has started with several cash for plasma clinics opening in Manitoba and Ontario. The target group is students and a few of these clinics are located within close proximity to universities. It seems the same screening procedure used by traditional, non-commercial clinics is used at the new clinics with one exception;people can sell blood (I can’t say donate) twice a week for $20 each time. Non-commercial clinics such as those operated by Hema-Quebec or Canadian Blood Services suggest a couple of months between donations.
The move is legal, but health observers worry about the consequences. There are fears some people might be tempted to lie on screening questionnaires to get access to cash.
Logistics aside, as a regular blood donor, I find the concept of payment for plasma repugnant. Can you sell body parts? Can I put one of my kidneys on EBay? Of course not. So why is it acceptable to sell blood? Even if this increases the amount of blood collected it raises questions about the quality of the blood. It isn’t news that for-profit entities are looking to keep costs to a minimum. Will this lead to reduced screening of blood?
Mike McCarthy has hemophilia and contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood. McCarthy lost two uncles because of bad plasma collected from prisoners in Arkansas. The Toronto man believes there should be a law preventing payment for blood donations.
“We are potentially heading down another slippery slope where consumer or commercial aspects take precedence over the safety and well-being of Canadians who depend on a safe blood system,” McCarthy told CBC News