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Idiot, idiot, tosser

It’s a tale of Americans who sell their blood proteins to get by financially, and my own physical dependence on them (I need regular plasma injections to keep me healthy). It’s also a tale of a system that relies on economic precarity, a hidden part of the US economy shunted off in strip malls by the Dollar Store or relegated to the poorer sides of the tracks in major cities, in places often neglected and ignored.

By the roughest guess, working backward from the number of plasma units collected in a single year, you could surmise that up to 20 million people in the US donate or sell their blood plasma, the yellowish liquid protein component of blood, in a year.

The number stunned me then, but in the bigger picture, maybe it’s not that hard to believe. The business centered on Americans’ blood plasma is a massively profitable one. In 2021, the global blood plasma industry was valued at $24bn. As one of only five countries – including Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary – in the world that allows donors to be paid for their plasma, with a large and growing population of people on the economic ropes, the US has become a primary source provider of an essential bodily fluid that is spun into profit-making medicines.

There is no country in the world that produces enough plasma for its own demand from voluntary donations. None.

All countries are dependent upon supplies from those limited number of places where plasma is paid for. All.

Without paid for plasma you’d be dead, Honey. Chew on that.

Yes, plasma is different from blood. Just one of those things.

17 thoughts on “Idiot, idiot, tosser”

  1. I see an attractive policy opportunity for a forthcoming UK government. Collecting taxes literally in blood. And sorry. This comment is not meant as a joke.

  2. Hmm – “a large and growing population of people on the economic ropes”, sounds like somebody didn’t get joebiden’s memo about how good the economy is.

  3. Doesn’t the UK pay with tea and biscuits ?

    “Yes, plasma is different from blood. Just one of those things.”

    Yeah but, shirley one has to spin the blood to separate out the plasma.

  4. OK, years ago I used to donate blood now & then. Not much trouble, tiny bit of discomfort, and you get a sticker that shows you’re a good’un.

    What, exactly, is the problem if someone gets paid for it?

  5. According to Gustavon’s LinkedIn profile, he was a volunteer and Senior Steward for London’s Pride organization between 2016 to 2019. His first Eunuch Maker site was registered in 2016, and in 2018, he started a film production company called Nullset.

    I wonder how many Met coppers danced with this guy.

  6. BiS – that collecting taxes in blood sounds good but how much blood could you remove from a little feller like Rishi to cover his tax liability?

    Incidentally, that picture accompanying the guardian article: that’s not plasma that’s Tropicana OJ with juicy bits.

  7. So if there are not enough voluntary donations, but she despises the process of obtaining it through paid donation what alternative does she think will work – forced donation?

  8. I seem to recall that blood that is altruistically given has a lower incidence of nastiness, (AIDS, HEP C etc)than blood that is paid for. This is a minor concern as all blood is filtered, but wastage and costs are thus higher for a product in high demand.

  9. She mentions it’s possible to make 104 plasma donations a year. That seems high, here in the Uk it’s once every 2 weeks although the overwhelming majority of donors simply give whole blood every 3 months.

    A brief online search indicates US clinics pay $50-75 per donation. That’s a max of $7,800 p.a. which is still good money for someone on the breadline, presumably not working and therefore able to donate twice weekly.

    I wonder how much research is taking place into utilising animal plasma?

  10. @John Not much, since most of the research regarding technical possibilities has already been done.

    Animal plasma is used to procure medicine and diagnostic reagents, but its applications are pretty limited.
    And the proteins that are needed in the list of possible diseases the article author may suffer from are too different across species to be useful. Or close enough, but cause …rather significant… immune reactions.

    That’s why there is a decent amount of research going on into making artificial plasma, usually by using modified bacteria/yeasts to produce the wanted proteins.
    However, for most of the diseases involved the protein produced that way isn’t folded correctly, so it has no, or diminished, biological function. Or worst case, triggers an immune reaction.

    Walks and looks like a duck, doesn’t quack like a duck, or if it does.. has the wrong plumage.
    An ongoing and eternal embuggerance in molecular engineering: The Origami is as important, if not more important in places, than the actual code.

    Human cell cultures in bulk are …surprisingly difficult to manage. And low-yield = super expensive. See also Artificial Meat™.
    So no real solution there either. Yet. Slow progress is slow but steady.
    People often forget/don’t know that this kind of cell culture was Hot Shit New Promising Tech when I was at Uni, so.. about 35-40 years old.
    It’s gotten to the point where culturing for diagnostic purposes has become pricey-but-“standard”.
    But the constant-flow production setup you’d need to make Medicine at commercial price levels remains …elusive. Nobel for Medicine level elusive.

    Currently harvesting stuff from the Real Thing™ , acquired voluntary or paid-for, is really the only economical way to do Things.

  11. @Boganboy Well.. heart problems and sudden drops in blood pressure are… tricky… 😉

    Plus that your plasma evidently contains stuff in sufficient levels that may cause problems in someone else if they use it. Missing Link style.
    Small risk, but they’re simply not taking it, malpractice bruhaha being what it is.

  12. In Canada I can’t give blood because I lived in Britain during the mad cow debacle and my wife can’t because she also had a blood transfusion during the tainted blood debacle, maybe reviewing some of the blanket rules may help. Blood donation was one of the many areas the ‘experts’ didn’t think about when it came to Covid, there is a certain level of it becoming something routine especially the workplace donations, so I wonder what donation levels post Covid with more work from home are.

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