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Should blood donors be paid

Should blood donors be paid?

By Myrah Yaseen

 

January was National Blood Donors Month. With the number of people willing to donate blood constantly fluctuating the question of whether money should be offered for donation has been raised. As of right now, it is illegal to be paid to donate blood in the UK, it is simply a voluntary action that can be done by any fit and healthy person from the age of 17 - 65, but will that always be the case? 

 

OSFC students were asked in a survey as to whether they would donate blood if paid to do so to see if more people would be likely to donate blood if there was money involved, the results are very telling: of the 35 people asked, 26/35 said that they would donate blood if paid to do so but 15 of those 26 said they would also do it for free, 8/35 people said no with reasons such as “I don’t want to be paid”, “fear of needles” and “health issues” and 1/35 said maybe as it would be depending on how much they would be paid. When also asked if blood donors should be paid in general, 8/16 said yes, 6/16 said no and 2/16 said maybe.

 

These results show a clear opinion that blood donors should be paid and if they were, people would be more likely to donate blood which would then reduce the shortage. On the surface, this looks like a good and helpful idea but there are a lot of complications that would need to be thought out. 

 

The biggest question behind paying blood donors would be, where would the money come from? Would it be something like taxes or would patients then have to pay for the blood used? What if people can’t afford that? Would we no longer have a free health service? How would all the tests eg: STD tests be paid for to ensure everyone is fit and healthy to donate? 

 

Furthermore, if people were paid to give blood, then the blood itself becomes a product that is being sold, and as there are 8 different blood groups with O+ being the most common yet O- being the most useful as it is universal, would there be a blood hierarchy with O- people being paid the most and O+ the least? It may run the risk of blood becoming a battle between who can pay the most, who has the "best blood," as well as pushing the potential for a "black blood market." A line must be drawn somewhere. Plus, it also raises further questions such as would previous blood donors have to be paid to make it fair? Would it be a specific period of time that would be compensated? Would there end up being too much blood? 

 

The hypothetical questions all demonstrate the potential problems that could develop as a result of bringing payment into blood donation, therefore overall, it seems more sensible to keep it as a voluntary action done though an innate sense of human kindness. We know that donating blood saves lives - it is fundamentally one of the most important and selfless things that a person can do, but in order to get more people to do it, rather than offering payment, the answer would surely be to increase advertising, improving their marketing campaign, illustrating the importance of it. The incentive of money would help but there would be too many problems in the end and it would be far too difficult to manage.