Why don't they pay for blood donations?
November 29, 2005 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Why don't they pay for blood donations?

Surely I'm going to hell now. BUT - it seems like there's always a shortage of blood at blood banks. They are always desperately low. Why don't they pay citizens for it?

I am a blood donor myself. Just asking!
posted by toastchee to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
You can sell blood.
posted by interrobang at 4:58 PM on November 29, 2005

Tons of hospitals and places like that will pay good money for your plasma.

So, the answer is: They do pay for blood donations. My girlfriend gets about $20 a visit. They take out her plasma, and give back the rest of it (red, white blood cells, etc).

But if you get money, you aren't exactly 'donating' it anymore, really.
posted by zerolives at 5:07 PM on November 29, 2005

Instead, it was safety concerns that brought an end to compensated "donation" of whole blood in the 1970s. At the time, scientists found that paid blood donors carried hepatitis at three times the rate of volunteers.

People do sell plasma, but only drug companies pay for plasma donations, and it's not given to patients--it's used in drug manufacturing. Plasma can be made safe in ways that blood can't, so getting it from paid donors isn't an issue.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:12 PM on November 29, 2005

I thought it was so that all the poor desperate people didn't end up with no blood. You know, like organ donations.
posted by chrismear at 5:14 PM on November 29, 2005

I recall reading somewhere, maybe freakonomics, that paying for blood actually decreased donations, as people no longer saw personal value or altruism in giving blood, only a relatively cheap and unfulfilling cash transaction. Or something like that in any case.
posted by loquax at 5:16 PM on November 29, 2005

Selling plasma was a major source of income for me back in the day. Those were cold days. They'd generally pay between $20 and $40 per visit. Visits were limited to every two weeks. You weren't allowed to have an STD or do drugs though. No fun.

I'm not sure about blood though. Seems sort of unsafe in this day and age.
posted by panoptican at 5:18 PM on November 29, 2005

When you donate blood, at least to the Red Cross, they actually sell it to hospitals. They use the money raised to accomplish work related to their missions. So the blood does not go to the patient for free; that's one reason that when you receive a transfusion, you will see a charge on the bill for the blood.
posted by Miko at 5:42 PM on November 29, 2005

Because remunerated blood donations could lead to blood pimps.
posted by neda at 6:13 PM on November 29, 2005

As a rider question: the first link in interrobang's google search says that people with Hep B vaccinations can get more for their plasma. I've had this (rather hellish) vaccine and am short on money - is this true? Why would it be so? Because I'm guarenteed to have certain antibodies?

(If that's the case, hey! I've had typhoid and yellow fever vaccines too!)
posted by kalimac at 7:10 PM on November 29, 2005

I thought another part of the reason is that it would encourage people who would be/should be ineligible to lie about their "qualifications".
posted by duck at 9:11 PM on November 29, 2005

In the book Freakonomics it makes the case that the personal feeling of generosity which comes from donating blood is a far more effective means of enticing people. A small amount of money would turn the procedure into nothing more than a very painful way to make a few dollars, a large amount of money would lead to problems of people fudging on requirements, faking on ids to donate multiple times etc.
posted by shanevsevil at 11:13 PM on November 29, 2005

Yes, it is true (at least at the plasma center I used to frequent) that having your Hep B vaccine would entitle you to higher prices for your plasma. But that is only if you have the right antibodies(?) still in your system. Further, if I remember correctly, the amount you get for Hep B plasma is a lot more than for regular plasma.
posted by oddman at 12:48 AM on November 30, 2005

Essentially, because if you pay people for their blood, you will get a much high number of people doing it for the money, rather than as an altruistic act. People who need the money will generally be in a lower income bracket and are therefore statistically more likely to have illnesses. Thus, the cost of getting the blood rises, and the quality and useable proportion of the blood obtained decreases.
posted by pollystark at 3:19 AM on November 30, 2005

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