I found out about directed donation when someone I know was found to be a close match for a baby with Diamond Blackfan anemia. He was asked if he would do directed blood donations to that baby on a regular basis. It was a serious commitment; missing a donation would put the child's life in danger. There were additional sacrifices--he couldn't travel a lot of places (for example, countries with malaria) as that would disqualify his blood.
The happy conclusion is that after five years, the parents had another child who was a perfect match for bone marrow, and after a marrow transfusion the Diamond Blackfan anemia was cured.
Regarding the postcard: I have donated in Illinois and California and have never gotten one. But I haven't been able to donate for a few years now because of trips into malaria zones, so if this is a recent thing, that would explain it.
But i had that image in my head as well, a big dirty vat of blood somewhere in a dipilated factory building.
According to this article, Australia spent $31M in a single year on blood/plasma 'products':
EDIT: It appears Pfizer and Baxter are the major suppliers to Australia.
Otherwise they'd have to make every test once for every single donation.
Thanks the blood donation tests, I found I had a punctual lack of iron earlier this year.
I'd assume any postcards sent out probably happen at the distribution stage, when the blood is shipped out to a hospital as that is a close enough approximation for the time when it will be used.
I wish I had something substantial to add, but I was just in awe by the presentation, the clear-cut contact information and credentials laid out, the pleasant font choices and how the related stories weren't pushed on you as opportunities for ad-rev, but for enlightenment for the curious.
If you're in London, they also have the Wellcome Collection - a medical focused museum that describes itself as "The free destination for the incurably curious". Pretty much always fascinating and worth a visit!
What you do is take blood from one of about 10 small testing segments and mix it with the recipient's serum. If it clots or hemolyzes, that's bad. That's the most elementary method of crossmatching units, and it's often still done just before sending a unit out, because the blood's there to be tested, might as well.
Reimbursement seems a non-sequitur in the context of donating blood. Without an alternative market for blood, framing it as foregone reimbursement would be actively antagonistic on the part of the charitable recipient [within the culture in my area]. eg, "we could pay you, but you shouldn't want us to."
Unless you are referring to a situation, expressed below, like not reimbursing significant travel expenses for mr blackfan-anemia. It's not clear to me.
The donor wouldn't have to also be "donating" gas money, just blood and time.
* In the private health-care world, if you're getting paid, you might feel like someone else is profiting off your blood (how else could they pay you?)
* In the public health-care world, if you're getting paid you might feel like money is being ill-spent when it could/should be used to better pay healthcare workers etc. since people are typically willing to donate blood for free.
On the flip side, blood banking is a small community. Each chief blood banker knows how much the products cost, often from working on both sides of the transaction at various times in their careers, and they see each other regularly. The head of our blood bank was previously the head of Blood Source. She has obligations to the university to not waste money, and she knows how much it costs to get a unit from Blood Source.
Now, I am not saying this is necessarily what will happen, but it's certainly possible. I also assume that executives at the Red Cross are already making less than what they could at for-profit companies. Non-profits have to compete with for-profits when it comes to employees; that's just a natural consequence of how labor and capital exist in our economy. I think this means that we will sometimes have to pay employees at non-profits more than what "feels" right in order to have good, competent employees.
But we do live in a capitalist society. So we have to, well, live with it. And part of living with it is recognizing that private entities that do work we would typically consider for the greater good of society have to compete against entities that exist for their own benefit. The reason that they don't pay the execs at the Red Cross more is that the rate of $600k is arrived at through a combination of what they have to pay to get a good executive, what they can pay, and the pay cut the execs are willing to take to work at a non-profit with high social value.
My argument is that the pay they've arrived at balances all of those things, and if we tried to cap it, we could harm the mission. Your argument is that the pay they've arrived at feels wrong, and we should ignore the dynamics of the labor market for execs.
You also appear to have a, well, econ for the gullible version of how executives get paid. Reality is much closer to managing to stack the board with friends, etc -- read eg Jack Welch.
Your argument about the dynamics of the labor market for execs is specious -- arrived at by assuming the current state, then proceeding to demonstrate the current state is necessarily optimal because we are in it.
Those numbers are not really stratospheric, offering less may make the positions impossible to fill.
Of course I don't intend to bring the character of the parent to question, I think it's great when anyone engages in charitable acts.
It's just interesting to me to think about the fact that compensating someone for what was once charity could dissuade them from donating. If compensation causes you to avoid giving blood, which is saving lives, because you no longer get the warm fuzzies were you ever acting altruistically to begin with?
I don't know.
If I give $350 in cash to the American Red Cross, I can take that charitable deduction from my annual filing. If I donate a unit of blood that gives ARC $350 in products, that's not deductible.
The incentive side steps the donor-with-marginal-income problem, unless I'm missing something.
Not Deductible As Charitable Contributions:
Cost of raffle, bingo, or lottery tickets
Dues, fees, or bills paid to ...
Value of your time or services
*Value of blood given to a blood bank*
And of course thousands of haemophiliacs in the 80s got infected with HIV and HepC because of contaminated Factor VIII: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contaminated_haemophilia_blood_...
People with rare blood could be gifted things like emergency taxi rides without adverse consequences and it's just bureaucracy, not science, that is in the way.
I'm not allowed to donate blood (any more), for what I think is an absurd reason. I spent a few months in England, over 30 years ago. So now the USA is afraid that any blood I donate will infect America with Mad Cow disease.
If those same rules were applied in the UK, nobody there would be able to give blood. The actual Red Cross text is:
You are not eligible to donate if:
From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996,
you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time
of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK),
You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of
5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present,
in any combination of country(ies) in Europe, ...
Given the litigious environment in the USA, I understand why the Red Cross has these rules. But it doesn't make sense from a scientific point of view.
I mean, there's this disease, and it kills people, and is known that blood transfusions can infect people and we don't have a test for it. What would you have the Red Cross do?
I understand that the US Red Cross is in a difficult position. But the health authorities in the UK (who are presumably "closer" to the situation) don't have the same restrictions. Of course that might be simple expediency, since by the US rules nobody in the UK could donate.
Hopefully vCJD is played out now. Hopefully.
And then by manipulating its genetic code slightly make it produce whatever blood we want. Better yet, take a sample from one perfect donor and make golden blood at a scale.
People have been trying since the 17th century: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_substitute
Somehow, talking about blood donations is one of the few things that helps my mood when I'm on a bad day. When I donate, I feel that maybe I do matter.
 "If you lack an antigen that 99 per cent of people in the world are positive for, then your blood is considered rare."
 "If you lack one that 99.99 per cent of people are positive for, then you have very rare blood."
Surely the author is saying the same thing here?
"Rare" = 99 in 100 people have this antigen, while you do not.
"Very Rare" = 9999 in 10000 people have this antigen, while you do not.
That's all it says.
If you lack an antigen, but at least 1 in 100 other people also lack this antigen, then your blood is only of the "Rare" category. If you lack an antigen and you'd have to go through 10 000 other people to find someone else lacking this antigen, your blood qualifies for the illustrious title of "Very Rare".
Rare is 1 in 100, very rare is 1 in 10000.
 1 in 100 --> rare
 1 in 10,000 --> very rare
> When he turned 18, Thomas was encouraged to donate blood for himself. There is now no frozen blood bank in Switzerland, so his blood is stored in the rare blood banks in Paris and Amsterdam.
And that his approval is required for doctors to draw into his "personal stash":
> Since his blood can be given to anyone with a negative Rh blood type, Thomas could save countless lives. But if he ever needs blood himself, he can receive only Rhnull blood. If he donates a unit for himself, he has to permit it to be used by anyone else who might need it.
The article strongly hints that donations for third parties are not stored in blood banks but donated directly (because fresh blood can be kept for much longer, frozen blood has to be used within 4 days of thawing)
That sentence could have been worded better. This is the way I read it:
If he donates a unit for himself, he must allow it
to be used by anyone else who might need it.
I think your rewording still leaves that ambiguity, somewhat (though it does seem better), because i keep reading that as:
> he must allow it to be used..
Perhaps it would have been best to right it to break it down into two sentences.
He can donate blood for himself.
If someone needs it, they have to ask for his permission.
He can donate blood for himself,
but then this makes it accessible to whoever is in need of it.
In fact, the very next sentence is "This leaves Thomas dependent on other Rhnull donors", which re-enforces my reading of the previous line. If he could have a private stash, he would not be dependent on other donors.
Based on the subsequent sentence I decided the author was in fact claiming that he couldn't save blood for his own exclusive use, but then immediately thought that can't possibly be true.
Poor machines will never learn to speak this language!
The sentence by itself is unclear, but the context of the surrounding paragraph makes it pretty clear that while he can donate blood to have on reserve in case he needs it, he might be screwed if someone else needed it, because he has to allow them to use it.
He is allowed his own stash.
> it can only be stored for 42 days
Fresh blood can be kept 42 days at 4C, blood can also be frozen and kept for decades (at -80C) or more (virtually indefinitely at -196C) but thawed blood must be used within 48h.
Source? The article seemed to indicate that he must permit any blood he donates to be used for other people, thereby implying he may not reserve any of it for himself.
What I could find via Google searching referred to specimen cryopreservation at this liquid nitrogen-low temperature, and retrieval for future analysis and umbilical cord/placental banking for stem cell retrieval, but not for whole blood banking.
AFAIK modern transfusions don't generally use whole-blood, and RBC are by far the most important component for rare blood types issue.
Reading this made me call the Red Cross and get back into giving blood.