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Ghana's Jobless And Poor Youth Turn To Selling Blood

Update Date: Sep 22, 2014 10:09 AM EDT
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Ghana's jobless and poor youth have turned to selling their own blood for a price. The 'commercial blood donors' as they are referred, fill the void in a country where blood is often in short supply and cultural and religious beliefs keep some form donating.

When a patient needs blood and it's not available in the blood banks, the paid donors step in for a price. 

Although the donations save the lives of bleeding patients, there exists a fear that the donors spread diseases like HIV or hepatitis to those who receive their blood.

"It's abnormal. We don't really encourage this kind of donation," said Stephen Addai, a spokesman for Ghana's National Blood Service, in a press release. 

"Sometimes they don't even know their blood group."

The economy of Ghana has recently begun slowing down and its government is investing heavily in building new hospitals and renewing old facilities. However, keeping blood banks stocked remains a constant struggle. 

The NBS usually relies on students to donate the approximately 250 units per-day of blood used in the southern third of the country, which includes the capital. But they still run short, particularly when students go on holiday, Addai said.

During a recent blood donor drive at a shopping mall in Accra, the NBS hoped to get 1,500 donors, Addai said. Instead, they got just five.

"They are afraid of the syringe," Addai said. "They are not aware of the importance of it because of certain beliefs. They've heard stories of certain diseases."

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