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EDITORIAL – If we want to keep blood free, we’ll have to pay for it

(Images: Canadian Blood Services – Facebook)

An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

SHOULD WE be paid for giving our blood?

The very thought of it has long been offensive to our Canadian values. Free blood is regarded as a basic human right, and the people who provide that blood shouldn’t make money off it — or so the argument goes.

And that’s basically the premise behind the introduction of a new bill — the Voluntary Blood Donations Act.

Voluntary blood donation is, says Health Minister Adrian Dix, integral to our healthcare system. The legislation aims at preventing the establishment of plasma collection clinics that would pay donors.

There’s already a small industry in Canada in which private for-profit organizations pay people for plasma and sell it on the global market. The legislation will ensure blood and plasma collected in B.C. stay as part of the national supply system run by Canadian Blood Services, says Dix.

Not everybody agrees on the issue of paying for blood and plasma, though. The bill introduced by Dix comes after several years of lobbying by the B.C. Health Coalition, which has pointed out that the 1993 inquiry into the tainted blood scandal recommended against paying for or selling blood products.

Former Health Minister Terry Lake had another view. Lake, when he was the minister, said most of the blood plasma used in Canada comes from U.S. donors who are paid.

The reason is that not enough blood is collected in Canada to meet our own needs. Lake, therefore, was of the opinion that practicality requires another approach.

Personally, I like a system that keeps the blood supply out of free-market economics, but if B.C. wants to protect the not-for-profit model, it has to invest in it.

The argument that profit-oriented clinics would tempt donors away from the voluntary system might have some merit but a greater investment will be needed in the current model to achieve self-sufficiency.

Either we pay for blood collected elsewhere, or we pay more to encourage people to donate here at home.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5674 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – If we want to keep blood free, we’ll have to pay for it

  1. Annette Glover // May 2, 2018 at 9:45 AM // Reply

    More monies should go into providing more clinics at a variety of different locations, and, definitely not to individuals. Donors are keen and just need accessible clinics.

  2. Raymond Nyuli // May 1, 2018 at 8:57 AM // Reply

    Donating or selling plasma is significantly more time consuming than donating blood. The most time consuming part of donating blood is usually waiting at the donor clinic for your turn. The actual blood collection only takes a few minutes. Because it takes several weeks to regenerate the blood cells, even a generous donor wouldn’t donate more than four times per year.
    Plasma donation requires blood extraction (the same as blood donation), separation of the plasma from the cells and other non-plasma components, and then returning everything but the plasma back to the donor. The process takes close to two hours. The body regenerates the plasma in a few days which enables a person to donate once a week or even more frequently. It isn’t unreasonable to pay a person to be a frequent supplier of plasma.

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