After the horrific tainted blood scandal in the 1980s, an inquiry (the Krever inquiry) was launched into how to keep Canada's blood supply safe. The inquiry found that using a voluntary donation system was the safest way to collect blood.
Last year it was discovered that three for-profit plasma (a part of our blood) clinics were set up in downtown Toronto and Hamilton. The clinics were ready to operate; they just needed the final nod from government. Canadians had not been consulted on the operation of for-profit plasma collection.
It was because supporters like you made so much noise that the government was forced to hold consultations. At that time Canadian Blood Services announced that there was no need at this time for additional plasma collection. Instead, Plasma Resources Inc (the company which owned the three clinics) would likely be selling the plasma on the international market. Profit would be made from Canadians' blood and sold internationally.
Also of concern is that these clinics were to be set up next to drug rehabilitation centres, homeless shelters, and university campuses. These are places where many people face challenging financial circumstances and therefore may feel more compelled to sell their blood. Concerns have also been expressed about blood collection in populations more at risk of contracting blood-borne pathogens.
The World Health Organization recommends a 100 per cent voluntary blood collection system for safety. Canadian Blood Services does occasionally advertise when the blood supply is low, but for the most part they've been able to meet their demands, even closing down a clinic in Thunder Bay because there was no need for additional blood.
There is simply no need for for-profit plasma clinics and it puts Canada's current blood supply at risk. During the 1980s 20,000 Canadians were infected with hepatitis C, 11,000 with HIV.
The Ontario Liberal government has announced that they will introduce legislation to stop the practice of for-profit plasma collection. Please email or call your MPP today to support strong legislation ensuring the safety of Ontario's blood supply by making it our goal to have 100 per cent voluntary blood collection. We need all political parties to support this very important legislation.
To find the contact information for your MPP please go to: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_current.do?locale=en
For Twitter users, please tweet your MPP asking for their public support of a 100 per cent voluntary blood collection system in Ontario.
Photo: European Parliament/flickr
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