Compensating Blood, Fluid, and Organ Donors with Peter Jaworski

My guest is Peter Jaworski of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He is the author, along with Jason Brennan, of Markets Without Limits.

We recorded this on August 24th, 2017, the same day Peter published an op-ed in the National Post titled “Canada needs blood plasma. We should pay donors to get it.” The op-ed argues in favour of allowing people who donate blood plasma in Canada to be compensated in return:

Canada buys the overwhelming majority of its plasma-protein products from American, for-profit companies that attract plasma donors by paying them. In 2016, Canadian Blood Services collected only 17 per cent of the total plasma it needs for essential plasma-products. To cover the shortfall, Canadian taxpayers spent $623 million buying just one of these products, immune globulin.

That’s why Canadian Blood Services (CBS) recently asked the government for $855 million in additional funding over the next seven years. They want to use the funds to open plasma collection centres that could collect more plasma that would be used to manufacture more of these products. And small wonder. Plasma-product pharmaceuticals treat a growing list of ailments, including life-threatening bleeding disorders, immune deficiencies, and infectious diseases like tetanus and hepatitis.

Despite this, when the Canadian company Canadian Plasma Services (CPS) stepped in to fill more of this need domestically?by using a paid donor model?groups like the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Health Coalition and others launched an aggressive campaign to stop them.

Peter and I discuss the best and most popular arguments against compensating blood plasma donors, and organ donors in general, then Peter gives counterarguments to each of these objections.

Furthermore, we discuss the United States’ recent legalization of compensation for bone marrow donors. In 2012, The Institute for Justice successfully argued in front of the 9th Circuit Court of the United States that bone marrow should be exempted from the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA), since bone marrow can be extracted from blood and does not thus count as an organ. Blood was specifically exempted from NOTA.

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