China / Society

Number forced to donate blood in Gansu case rises

By Xinhua (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-20 07:10

The number of victims forced to donate blood in Gansu province has increased to 10.

More details are being revealed as investigations continue into the scandal that saw a group of children under the age of 18 forced to donate blood every month between November and May.

A group of seven individuals in Wuwei, Gansu, were involved in the scandal. They were led by a man named Huang, identified as the deputy chief of a blood center run by the Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products, and illegally collected 10,700 yuan ($1,740) through more than 48 forced blood donations.

Seven of the 10 victims were under the age of 18, the Wuwei Public Security Bureau said on Sunday.

So far they have arrested six of the seven suspects, with one suspect declared exempt from criminal responsibility for being underage.

In China, the legal age for blood donation is 18 to 55. Blood centers are required to double-check the donor's identity before taking blood.

The Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products is one of China's largest producers of blood products.

Donors at blood centers earn between 100 to 200 yuan per visit as a "nutrition fee". It's common for young donors to visit the center in groups.

Huang enlisted a student from the local school to help select the victims, often his friends, one source told Xinhua. Another accomplice would collect ID cards with photos that looked like the victims.

Huang then used his position as the head of the center to add the false information into their database to complete the verification process, said Dong Dexiang, a police officer from the local Public Security Bureau.

The victims were threatened or beaten if they did not cooperate, according to Dong.

An employee at the blood center said the donors were informed beforehand of the questions asked in the ID verification process and were told to recite answers that would not arouse suspicion, adding to the difficulties in uncovering the false IDs.

Locals say this had been going on for years, with one source telling Xinhua that angry parents, who discovered their children had been forced to donate blood, confronted the company in 2012. The confrontation was not verified by the police.

Dong said Huang's position at the blood center helped them cover their tracks, as he supervised the center's whole process from collecting ID cards to physical check-ups.

The blood center only verifies first-time donors, during which they take photos and register the volunteer's information. Qualified donors receive a certificate allowing them to avoid future ID checks, according to company regulations.

This was another reason why the group operated as long as it did, said Dong.

Each year, the blood center's employees were given a quota to help find 30 new donors. If successful, they received a 3,600 yuan bonus.

Health inspectors examine the blood center three to five times a year, but despite spot checks, donor ID supervision relies solely on records provided by the blood center, said Wang Xuejun, an official with the Wuwei health department.

"Both (the health inspector's) supervision and the company's regulations should be strengthened," he said.


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