● In his book The Gift Relationship (1971), Professor Richard Titmuss of the University of London says regarding blood obtained for transfusions: “There are many myths in all societies and America is no exception. One of the most deeply held myths in that country today . . . is that the voluntary donor is the norm; that most blood donations are contributed by volunteers.”
This author suggests eight different categories of blood “donors.” These are: The Paid Donor “who sells his blood for what the market will bear.” The Professional Donor “who yield[s] blood on a regular, registered, semi-permanent or semi-salaried basis.” The Paid-Induced Voluntary Donor “who receives a cash payment but who claims that he is not primarily motivated by the payment.” The Responsibility Fee Donor who is charged a fee for blood ‘lent’ him during an operation and who can replace the blood and have the fee refunded. The Family Credit Donor “who makes a predeposit donation of one pint of blood each year in return for which he and his family . . . are ‘insured’ for their blood needs for one year.” The Captive Voluntary Donor such as those in military forces or prisons “who are called upon, required or expected to donate. If they do not they may be exposed to disapproval or shame, or they may be led to believe that refusal would adversely affect their future.” The Fringe Benefit Voluntary Donor who is “attracted or induced by the prospect of tangible rewards . . . in non-monetary forms,” for instance, days off work or longer holidays. The Voluntary Community Donor who “is the closest approximation in social reality to the abstract concept of a ‘free human gift.’”
The professor sets forth a chart of the estimates of blood collected in the United States during 1965 through 1967. It shows that only 7 percent of the blood came from the “voluntary community donor.” The author thus observes: “To ‘donate’ is to give implying an altruistic motive; strictly, and perhaps more neutrally speaking, ‘suppliers’ should replace ‘donors’ in the vocabulary of this study.”—Pp. 71-96.