The Reporter
Issue 493, 27 October 2003
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Blood money not the way to fill the banks


We wouldn’t give more blood even if we were paid for it, new research suggests. We’d rather donate it for free.

Paying blood donors is sometimes proposed as a way to keep the nation’s blood banks topped up, but a survey in Leeds found that paying for blood would necessarily not stop the National Blood Service from running on empty. Although 16% of people would be more likely to give blood if paid for it, a similar number would actually be discouraged by payment.

Lead researcher Richard Jones, from biochemistry and molecular biology, said: “Some people would be happy to be paid for their blood, others see it as wrong. One respondent commented that it ‘went against principles’ for people to be paid.”

Leeds residents were also concerned about safety. Although two thirds of respondents would be happy to receive blood from a paid donor – a vote of confidence in screening procedures – the other third would not.

“This may reflect worries that intravenous drug users will use blood sales to fund their habit, a morbid trend identified in the USA, where donors are regularly paid for blood,” said Dr Jones.
The survey, published in Transfusion Medicine, showed markedly different results according to age. Younger respondents seemed happier for money to be involved in blood ‘transactions’ than older Leeds residents.

When asked how big an incentive they would need to give blood, one person suggested £1,000 a pint. Fortunately, 80% of people priced their altruism more reasonably, and suggested amounts of £10 or less.


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