Hospital shortage begets blood black market

By Kou Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-27 0:23:01

Illegal dealers recruit donors, charge patients 1,000 yuan per unit of fluid

Several cases of illegal trade in human blood for transfusion were exposed in East China's Jiangsu Province on Tuesday. The black-market deals are partly caused by the country's severe blood shortage, experts said, calling for an update to China's current blood donation laws.

Amid a shortage of blood at hospitals in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, many desperate patients in need of blood transfusions have turned to illegal agents to help them find blood donors, news portal reported Tuesday.

"I can find a donor as long as you tell me the blood type of the patient a day in advance," a blood seller in Suzhou who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Monday. He claimed he charges 1,000 yuan ($154) for every 200cc of blood he gets donated to a local blood bank or hospital.

"By national standards, 200cc of blood only costs around 210 yuan in hospitals," Wang Chuanxi, deputy chief of the Guangzhou Blood Center, told the Global Times, adding that the fee covers the cost of blood storage and processing.

China's Law on Blood Donation encourages patients' family members, relatives, friends and colleagues to donate blood for mutual aid, but says it is illegal to make arrangements for another person to sell his or her blood for a patient's use.

"All you have to do is to tell the blood bank that the donor is your colleague or friend," the seller said.

"As the current law does not specify what constitutes blood donation for mutual aid, it is necessary to update the law to define how the relationship between donor and patient should be determined," Fan Rong, a doctor at Beijing Tsinghua Changgung Hospital, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Experts have stressed that it is crucial to resolve the blood shortage to strike a blow to China's illegal blood trade.

"China has suffered a chronic shortage of blood in recent years. Despite the fact that more and more people have donated their blood, the donation rate in China is relatively low compared to developed countries, leading to tight hospital blood supplies," Fan said.

Only around 0.95 percent of Chinese people donated blood in 2014, while the rate should reach 1 percent to 3 percent to meet a country's basic demand for blood, the Beijing Times reported in 2015.

Since Spring Festival this year, more than 50 large and medium-sized cities have suffered blood shortages, including Beijing and Shanghai, reported. The Beijing News reported in November 2015 that a similar illegal trade in blood was also uncovered in the capital.

"Traditionally, Chinese people are reluctant to donate blood and have limited knowledge of the donation process. The government should make more efforts to educate the public and promote the transparency of blood management and use to reduce public mistrust in blood donation agencies," Fan said.

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