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Selling Blood Is Greedy, Dirty 


The search for the illusive coin hasn’t spared the very vulnerable health sector. Stories are rife worldwide of the very poor, selling off their body parts to keep the rest of the corpus alive. The story is told of poor Asians who sell off their kidneys for paltry sums, just so they could cater for their family members for as cheap as $200, or FCFA 100,000.
Cameroonians are not as yet desperate as to be trading in their kidneys and other related body parts. But that doesn’t cancel the fact that quite a good number of them don’t sell what otherwise should be strictly donated, on account of the not-too-friendly economic environment. 
Blood, which in the past was strictly donated to save life, has been commercialized, more or less. It is common these days to find young men touting around the big hospitals and waiting for whom to give them a rare blood donation contract as it were. Desperate relatives of anemic patients practically haggle and arrive at what should be paid for a pint. In most of the cases they are doomed to pay; to save the life of a loved one.
The fear of being diagnosed with the dreaded HIV/AIDS also accounts in no small way to certain individuals opting to buy blood from touts than offering theirs in free donation to their loved ones. Plus the desperation that comes from the not too young willing but unqualified persons who might have passed the age where they can offer their blood to save life.
The more troubling issue however, is when certain hospitals resort to the rather bizarre approach of asking people to pay for donating their own blood. A man who claimed to have been donating blood regularly told this Reporter that some years ago, he was embarrassed by being asked to pay nearly FCFA 5000 for donating blood to a patient at the Douala Laquantinie Hospital. The cash payment, he said, was duly receipted for.
A medical laboratory scientist at the Buea Regional Hospital, Geoffery Esoh, told this Reporter that blood could only be donated by healthy persons between the ages of 17 and 50 and that it is carried out at every health district. Despite this fact, he added, only the Regional Hospital operates a blood bank where blood can be stored for use when the need arises. Admitting that there are no rules without exceptions, the lab scientists said individuals who have been ill for over a year, donors on admission to hospital, persons with sexually transmissible infections like HIV and victims of hepatitis A and B don’t qualify to donate blood.
Essoh also said Government policy discourages the buying and selling of blood, adding that teams sent out on a blood drive bi-monthly basis to replenish the bank, are given money by the Ministry of Public Health to procure stimulants for willing donors.
On the criteria used to get blood from a donor he said pre counseling is carried out, whereby the volunteer is told of the importance and advantages donating; that screening is carried out to detect sexually transmittable diseases, hepatitis A and B for free. Healthy donors donate and it is stored in the bank while unhealthy donors undergo post counseling and are referred directly to the doctor for immediate prescription without necessarily passing through the normal consultative procedure. However, there are those who still fear that certain hospitals may be making the fast buck from trading in donated blood. This fear is held by a certain Leslie Ako lamented: “we freely give our blood, but people are dying of shortage of blood because they do not have money. Why is blood that is given for free, sold to desperate patients?
The scientist debunked the above allegation, saying: “blood is not sold; rather the money paid by recipients is strictly for the screening carried out before blood transfusion and the blood bag’’. 
Karis Okon (UB Journalism Student On Internship)

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