Time to close underground blood market
CHINA WILL halt its "mutual aid blood donation", except in some far-flung areas, by the end of March. Beijing Youth Daily commented on Tuesday:
"Mutual aid blood donations" refer to blood donations from relatives and friends, and they are encouraged by the Blood Donation Law of 2009 as a supplement to voluntary blood donations, which are now only sufficient to provide for needs of emergency surgery in hospitals.
Although the practice has helped to ease the shortage of donated blood in China, where only 0.87 percent of the population voluntarily gives blood, compared with the 4.54 percent in developed countries, it has spawned a huge underground market for the buying and selling of blood, which has evolved into the main source of blood for the needy.
However, the lure of profits－100 milliliters of blood can be worth as much as 2,000 yuan ($315)-has attracted many disqualified donors. Worse, the heads of the gangs of paid donors, can always find ways to help unqualified blood find its way to hospital blood banks irrespective of how harmful the blood may be to the recipient.
And statistics show 68.2 percent of the disqualified blood donated in China is from this mutual aid channel, so despite the blood shortage, it is time to lower the curtain on this "mutual aid" even before the law is revised.
It is time, as some cities have already done, to increase the number of blood donation stations to make it more convenient for people to donate blood, and lobby big employers to encourage their staff to donate blood, with various kinds of incentives if necessary.
The public health authorities should also strengthen their coordination of different regions' blood supplies to meet the needs of emergency clinical use.