Why Blood Banks Charge For Blood When It Is Donated?

Yesterday I was having a cup of tea with a group of people who had come to discuss some projects their organsiation wants to do in the domain of blood donation. During the conversation one of them mentioned about “blood banks make money out of blood donation”- statement I have heard several hundred times in 15 years.

This triggered me in to writing this piece.

Donated blood cannot be transfused to any patient as is where condition. Ask yourself whether you would like to receive. It can happen only in the domain of “woods” –  Kolly, Bolly, Tolly….

Let’s look into the activities that happen to make available safe blood and blood components to patients:

  1. Social marketing to create awareness on voluntary blood donation and get the potential donor to donate blood. One out of 30 calls succeed.
  2. Collection of donated blood into a sterile single use disposable bag (cost varies for single, double, triple bags and the quality of the bags).
  3. Post Donation care – refreshments, donor certificate, donor card.
  4. Donor blood grouping.
  5. Separation of Blood into components.
  6. Storage of the blood and blood components at appropriate temperatures – till given to patient or discarded for various reasons.
  7. Testing the donated blood to ensure safety – this might vary from blood bank to blood bank based on the number of tests and the quality of testing.
  8. Compatible testing to identify the correct unit for transfusion for a given patient.
  9. Packing and release of the identified unit to the hospital.
  10. Expense relating to discard of blood units which have already been tested and found unfit for use.
  11. Cost involved in safe disposal of waste generated (bio-medical waste disposable).
  12. Employee cost (salary).
  13. Cost of purchase and maintenance of expensive equipments.
  14. Rent, electricity, and cost of diesel to run the generator.

It costs on an average Rs. 1500 to process single blood donation.

In the absence of any government support, blood banks have to recover these expenses either from the patients who can afford to reimburse them or by way of donations from the society it supports. Government blood banks also spend money to process blood and the same comes from the taxpayer’s money!

Jeevan is fortunate to have supporters in the community. Jeevan meets the blood needs of several hundred patients every year through the “Make Blood Free” programme with public support. Beneficiaries are children with Thalassemia (need 2 blood transfusions a month), Patients of Tanker Foundation (Dialysis), Adyar Cancer Institute, Govt. Children’s Hospital and many others. Major donors to this programme are Rotary Club of Madras Metro and Cognizant Foundation.

There is no free lunch in this world!

You can also support Make Blood Free. Join the mission at www.jeevan.org

Till next time…

Srinivasan