The Body Economy: Blood products in the Marketplace | Dalhousie University
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The Body Economy: Blood products in the Marketplace | Dalhousie University

The Body Economy: Blood Products in the
Marketplace. Recently in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick
private plasma collection centers have opened up offering people up to $50 per
plasma collection. Saskatchewan senator Pamela Wallin has brought a bill before
the Senate to ban such payments, raising an important policy question: should
Canada allow our plasma to be bought and then sold on the international market?
I’m Francoise Bayliss I’m a bio ethicist at Dalhousie University. Plasma makes up
55 percent of human blood and is in high demand. It’s used to make immune boosting
drugs, to routinely treat bleeding disorders, liver disease and many types
of cancer. Countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand benefit from a
coordinated voluntary system to collect plasma from their own citizens. Our
nonprofit agencies, Canadian Blood Services and Hema Quebec, are only now
ramping up voluntary plasma donations. Will donors give freely if a nearby
collection center is offering payment? And what about autonomy when payment is
offered? We know that payment can be a coercive force compromising autonomous
decision-making, and taking advantage of vulnerable people in need of ready cash.
Consider the American Red Cross, it accepts repeat plasma donations unpaid
every 28 days. But some private centres in the United States allow a twice
weekly schedule that can earn people between three hundred and five hundred
dollars a month. In Canada selling plasma to a private broker is not like donating
blood to help your community. People at private collection centres will receive
their payment, but their plasma will not be used in Canada, it will be exported
for profit despite the urgent need here at home.
Our goal should be to build a Canadian system of nonprofit plasma donations
allowing healthy individuals to give of themselves freely without potential
compromise. This will strengthen our self-sufficiency for life-saving
treatments, and reduce our dependency on variable global markets. How we regulate
blood products in the marketplace will have a fundamental impact on what we
value and who we are as human beings. Learn more at and
join the conversation on twitter: #thebodyeconomy

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