13 June 2011

"Blood farming" explained

Excerpts from The Red Market, a book by Scott Carney, subtitled "On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers."
For the last three years the man had been held captive in a brick-and-tin shed just a few minutes’ walk from where the farmers were drinking tea. The marks on his arms weren’t the tell-tale signs of heroin addiction; they came from where his captor, a ruthless modern-day vampire and also a local dairy farmer and respected landowner named Papu Yadhav, punctured his skin with a hollow syringe. He had kept the man captive so he could drain his blood and sell it to blood banks...

They sprung the lock and revealed a medical ward fit for a horror movie. IV drips hung from makeshift poles and patients moaned as if they were recovering from a delirium. Five emaciated men lying on small woven cots could barely lift their heads to acknowledge the visitors... One man stared at the ceiling with glassy eyes as his blood snaked through a tube and slowly drained into a plastic blood bag on the floor. He was too weak to protest.

A crumpled nylon bag next to him held five more pints. Inside were another nineteen empty bags ready for filling. Each had official-looking certification stickers from local blood banks as well as bar codes and a seal from the central regulatory authority...

A healthy adult has between 14 and 18 grams of hemoglobin for every 100 milliliters of blood. The men averaged only 4 grams. Leeched of their vital fluids to the brink of death, all of them were gray and wrinkled from dehydration...

It is tempting to view the horrors of Gorakhpur’s blood farm as an isolated incident: the sort of aberration that only happens on the margins of the civilized world and unrelated to the blood supply anywhere else. But the existence of the blood farm suggests a deeper problem with the circulation of human materials in the market. The blood farm could never have existed without eager buyers who were either incurious about the supply or just didn’t care about the source.
Via Wired Science.  I've requested the book from our library.


  1. Another aspect of blood product farming --

    "The situation in China during the early years of the epidemic highlights the need not only for voluntary, non-remunerated donors but also safe procedures for blood collection, testing and transfusion.(54) Farmers from Henan province donated blood during the 1990s to collection sites where, to save money, the donors blood was pooled, the plasma extracted and then the remaining blood injected back into the donor.5556 More than 100,000 farmers were infected with HIV in this way and unknowingly continued to donate infected blood, which was passed on through blood transfusion."


  2. I've given blood in the UK for the last thirty years or so - and though the official rigmarole is a pain, it does at least stop this sort of thing.

  3. Allowing gay people to donate blood might lessen the strain a little bit...

  4. 'Allowing gay people to donate blood might lessen the strain a little bit...'

    Here, here!

  5. For any given good, legal restrictions (price, source, licensing) create shortages and drive up prices.

    Shortages, combined with legal restrictions, create black markets.

    Black market operators are already operating outside the bounds of society, and will tend to use all means available to supply the good.

    Risks are higher not only because all of their capital and goods can be confiscated, but also because they have no non-violent means of arbitration for conflicts that arise. This means not only that prices will be higher, but also that violence will be endemic and inherent in the trade of any good.

    This is true for any good; beer, bud, or blood.


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