By Cal Widdall
“I had trouble staying awake in class…now I’ll have a legit excuse, and improve my grades at the same time! Win.”
In a bid to boost the capital’s blood supplies, Beijing Municipal Health Bureau has announced that the amount of blood university students donate will affect their academic grades. Supplies have been critically low since last winter, partially due to public mistrust caused by the Guo Meimei scandal.
Though no detailed plan regarding frequency of blood collections and implementation dates has yet been drawn up, the scheme has already attracted controversy. There’s generally a strong reluctance to give blood in China, due to blood being associated with qi, or life energy. Therefore, coercing under-pressure students into donating blood seems harsh, to say the least.
Besides the obviously morally gray practice of offering higher grades in exchange for blood, it’s also been argued that the arrangement will be prejudiced against students with poor health.
The government’s track record on blood donor incentive schemes isn’t too encouraging either. In the late 1980’s many local health authorities began ‘blood farming’, encouraging peasants to donate with financial rewards, and relieving their concerns of being weakened by re-injecting the blood once the plasma was removed.
The results were disastrous on an epic scale, with irresponsible and unhygienic practices leading to estimations of tens or even hundreds thousands of donors becoming infected with HIV in China.
The plan has a lot going against it, and seems more than a little creepy, but on the positive side it will undoubtedly cause a large increase in student donations, which will in turn save lives.
If only someone could help us bypass the whole debate by figuring out a way to make human blood with rice. Or tofu, either one is fine.