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March 11, 2019

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The British sociologist Richard Titmuss wrote a fascinating book, The Gift Relationship, about various systems of medical blood collection. He categorized these as coerced (Soviet Army soldiers were required to donate blood at regular intervals), commercial (both whole blood and plasma could be sold, typically in poor urban neighborhoods), and voluntary. The evidence showed pretty clearly that the lowest rate of rejection for presence of infection or other factors making blood unusable occurred where the collection relied on volunteers. (I was an every-eight-week donor until I underwent chemotherapy for cancer, at which point the blood bank on Masonic Ave. told me I wasn't eligible any more.)

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