Proposal needs to be discussed

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People who regularly donate blood and related products must be wondering what the deal is. But the very fact that clinics willing to pay for blood plasma are under consideration suggests a strong demand for such life-saving products.

Keep in mind that constant encouragement is needed to boost the ranks of those who drop in to the volunteer clinics.

Concern is being raised that such a prospect for paid-donor blood plasma is on the horizon. In Ontario, the health minister has contacted federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq urging consultation between Health Canada, the provinces and groups with an interest before approval is granted.

Aglukkaq has agreed such discussions will be set up.

Indeed, it’s been two decades, but even so it’s not that long ago this country underwent a public inquiry over tainted blood transfusions in the 1980s, and a key recommendation to help safeguard the system was that donors not be paid, except in rare circumstances.

Plasma is a component of blood and is used to treat various diseases. In contrast to donors of whole blood, who can make the gift as close as 56 days apart, plasma donors can give weekly.

Although people are screened carefully at clinics, and donations are also tested, the concern raised by some is that offering an incentive to prospective donors could change the dynamics somewhat.

Yet, when the demand is there, as usual, some sort of development is needed. Clinics that regularly visit small towns in Nova Scotia concentrate on the whole blood supply. Plasma donation is done in clinics in larger centres, such as Halifax. And there’s probably no easy way around that when the process is more specialized.

The issue has to be thoroughly discussed, as the federal minister has suggested, to deal with all potential problems or concerns.

But also, this story is a good reminder of the continual need to educate people about the overall donation system, to get new people in the doors of clinics.

Organizations: Health Canada, Halifax

Geographic location: Ontario, Nova Scotia

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