By Yining Su
Image credit: @freenerd.
A Shanghai court handed down life sentences on Saturday for three men convicted of murdering a rival in the illegal blood trade. Another man was sentenced to eight years behind bars.
According to the Shanghai Daily the four men stabbed the victim, surnamed Yu, the day after Yu beat up the girlfriend of one of his attackers while she was soliciting clients outside a hospital.
According to prosecutors, the perpetrators and the victim had come into conflict in the past while competing for customers.
Blood donations are supposed to be voluntary in China, but an illegal trade exists because of shortages of legally-donated blood. According to a China Daily story from last year:
Currently, only 87 of every 10,000 people on the Chinese mainland donate blood, far less than the average of 454 for every 10,000 people in developed countries and the WHO-recommended figure of 100 for every 10,000, according to data from the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Due to the shortage of blood, relatives of patients admitted to hospitals are often asked to donate blood before operations can be done, according to the same article. Patients’ whose operations are not urgent are also encouraged to store their own blood for transfusion. Though this system of “mutual help blood donation” is meant to be a voluntary measure, in practice, patients find their operations delayed if they cannot find donors. In this situation some people turn to illegal blood traders to hire people to give blood in their name.
In addition, illegal blood traders also sell blood to officials who have failed to fill their quota.
In China, the reluctance to give blood comes from the fact that “many still think that donating blood will harm their health and could even give them diseases”, according to a professor of medicine quoted in the China Daily story.
During the 1990s, thousands of people in central China were infected with HIV after donating plasma through unscrupulous commercial vendors.
It’s a vicious cycle: people are reluctant to donate blood because they do not trust the process, which leads to shortages, which leads hospitals to turn to unscrupulous blood traders, which leads people to mistrust blood donation.
Those interested in donating blood in a safe and above board manner can do so at the Shanghai Red Cross Blood Centre.