Life

Judge’s Blood Donation Offer Raises Eyebrows

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An Alabama judge offered offenders who needed help paying fines the chance to earn a voucher in exchange for a blood donation.

Last month, a judge in the “Heart of Dixie” told offenders who had reported to his courtroom of a blood drive being held outside the courthouse.

Any offender who had unpaid fines or fees and who needed a break could receive a $100 voucher in exchange for a blood donation.

The New York Times reported the Southern Poverty Law Center filed an ethics complaint against the, saying he had committed “a violation of bodily integrity.”

That’s certainly an interesting way of putting it.

One of the accused who went to give blood — and claimed to be unclear as to whether he had to give blood — claimed he was concerned when he saw the name of the mobile clinic conducting the blood collection which “had recently lost a $4 million judgment for an H.I.V.-tainted blood transfusion,” the Times reported.

A vice president of the company that collected the blood told The Times the company “prohibits blood donations from being considered as community service because it is potentially an unacceptable incentive for a volunteer donor.” In addition, the company “quarantined and tested the blood, tried to contact all the donors and eventually discarded nearly all of the blood units collected.”

Despite assurances the blood supply is safe and that testing measures should prevent tainted blood from ever making it into the blood supply, we continue to have a ban for certain people who have engaged in certain behaviors considered to be “high risk.” For years now, gay men who’ve had sex with other men are banned for life from giving blood, regardless of their HIV status.

If the testing is so good, why would a lifetime ban for gay men — even if they haven’t been sexually active for years — remain in place?

If the testing is so good, why would they need to discard “nearly all of the blood units collected?”

If, on the other hand, our blood donation protocols still require such an overabundance of caution, despite the insistence that testing would prevent tainted blood from reaching patients, why would a court act so cavalier about blood donation?

Giving blood shouldn’t be done to get someone out of a crisis. It should be done because the person wants to help a worthy cause. That’s not to say businesses like Chick-Fil-A and others that provide coupons as a “thank you” to donors should be prevented from doing so.

It’d be one thing to require defendants to get a break on a fine by donating canned goods to a food drive. Blood is a different matter.

Would you be comfortable receiving blood for elective surgery if you knew the blood may have come from someone who may have felt ‘coerced’ to give rather than someone who freely wanted to?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.