The Red Cross actually sells blood

Million dollar blood donation business: why you shouldn't bleed at the German Red Cross

Donating is a good deed. Especially at Christmas time, some people reflect and want to do good for others. Giving someone a gift, making others happy or maybe giving something to someone in need. Or also: donate blood. Donating blood is increasingly becoming a tradition for Muslims during the days of mourning for Imam Hussein (a.). Donating blood helps save lives. And as a donor, you have a good feeling after you have donated part of the juice of your life.

The mobile blood donation mobile of the German Red Cross (DRK) can be found on certain dates at schools, at various events or at the train station. Just get into the truck, donate blood and get out with the feeling that you have done something good. Most donors are motivated by charity and solidarity with other people. As a reward, the DRK even gives them a cheese roll and juice as a nice gesture.

But appearances are deceptive. Blood is currently more expensive than oil on the world market. After donation, the blood is broken down into its three main components - red blood cells, platelets and blood plasma. These three components are resold by the DRK. A profitable business, because plasma in particular can be well preserved for months without losing its properties.[1]

It is therefore not for nothing that it is also referred to as “yellow gold”. One liter of plasma is sold by the DRK to hospitals for 270 euros. If the plasma is needed in crisis areas, the DRK charges a much higher price per liter. A lucrative business. The demand for blood plasma is great: more than thirty different drugs are made from it and it is an important part of vaccines.[1:1]

There are now companies that have gotten a taste for it, operate commercial plasma centers and pay blood donors up to 20 euros for a donation there. Peanuts versus the profit they make from the blood. The plasma centers are still small and only have 4% of the market share for blood donations in Germany.[1:2] With a 70% market share, the DRK has a monopoly position in Germany [2] and can therefore determine the blood price at will. According to an article in Focus, the German Red Cross makes an annual profit of 500 million euros through blood donations alone.[3]

The article also states that the non-profit nature of the DRK is to be questioned with this income and that it has mutated from a charity to a commercial corporation. The chairman of the German Tax Union, Thomas Eigenhaler, suspects that the tax offices did not specifically examine the charitable nature of the blood donation service and that the DRK is thus claiming unjustified tax advantages. The multi-billion dollar corporation, which consists of numerous GmbHs, is not transparent. The good contacts of the German Red Cross to politics would also mean that any criticism of maintaining the charitable status would be thrown off.[4]

There is competition in the international blood market and hospitals in the EU are increasingly buying blood plasma from the USA. Increasing reserves of blood plasma from the United States can also be found in German hospitals. The price for American blood plasma is around 100 euros per liter [1:3] less than the price of blood donated to the DRK.

This is because private US plasma centers sell the blood cheaper internationally because they save on important safety standards and personnel. There the blood is only tested against the most common pathogens. Diseases such as HIV are often only asked for in a questionnaire and rely on the honesty of the donor.[5] Through its donated blood business, the DRK is helping to ensure that potentially infected blood plasma from the USA also reaches German hospitals.

But if you want to do good, you can still donate blood: not to the German Red Cross, but directly to the local hospital. The blood is urgently needed here. Some hospitals pay the donor an expense allowance. You can find out at which hospitals you can donate blood directly by calling the hospital. Otherwise, it is also worth taking a look at the Internet. On you can simply search for blood donation services in your own city under “Blood donation services”. All hospitals and clinics with a blood donation service are also listed here. One should only note that DRK and private institutions as well as pharmaceutical companies are also displayed and that one actually only goes to a hospital or clinic to donate blood.

At least with this method you can be sure that no business will be made with the donated blood and that it will actually benefit other people. So you can actually save lives at Christmas or on the commemoration days of Imam Hussein (a.).




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