by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Blood is a river of life, providing nutrients to every cell in our bodies while carrying away waste products.
Its composed of cells and plasma, the latter its liquid component, comprising most bodily blood volume. It contains other substances vital to life.
Other than physicians, especially hematologists and surgeons, few people think about blood unless they bleed, have blood tests, need transfusions or discover they have a blood disorder.
Otherwise, the river of life is ignored. Not to pharmaceutical companies and other blood profiteers. For them, blood is a commodity to be sold for profit.
It's big business, netting billion dollars in profits annually. In America, facilities mostly in poor communities pay donors for their blood, a practice European countries forbid.
For impoverished Americans, it's a source of income, along with a health risk for repeated donations, even when not in the best of health.
An earlier Forbes magazine article headlined "The Guys Who Trade Your Blood For Profit," saying "the American Red Cross controls 44% of the blood supply and has the ability to distribute nationally, depending on the needs of particular areas."
Private companies profit from blood sales. Tainted blood is an important issue, posing safety threats to patients, potentially risking disease from transfusions.
Viruses, parasites, bacteria and other pathogens show up in donated blood, including in red blood cells, platelets and plasma.
Blood centers involved in collecting and testing blood say they can't afford expensive new technologies not mandated for their work.
The American Red Cross has been fined millions of dollars for violating blood safety laws, "including mismanaging certain blood products and violating best manufacturing practices," said Forbes.
The organization was founded as a voluntary relief agency, providing aid to victims of war and national calamities. Its main business now isn't disaster relief. It's selling blood for profit.
Blood donations remain a vital resource for many surgery and cancer patients, trauma victims, and others needing transfusions.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Blood, Organ, and Other Tissue Safety director Dr. Matthew Kuehnert earlier stated the obvious, saying "(b)lood saves lives."
"But transfusions have risks, and they can transmit infectious disease and cause reactions. And that requires careful screening and monitoring."
Given the number of possible risk factors, it's cost ineffective to test for everything.
Patients with planned surgeries are safest by donating their own blood in advance, if their doctors advise it may be needed.
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