The voluntary blood donation system was originally introduced around the world during the 1930s. Now, more than 90 countries and regions have such a system and all the blood needed by hospitals is supplied by volunteers.
In Japan, many 20-year-olds donate each year after attending the ceremony for Adults’ Day on January 15. The traditional festival has been used to promote voluntary donations. In European countries, many regular donors have donated blood 10 to 15 times. They are strong and safe donors who consider giving blood a moral obligation. In the Czech Republic, hospitals give men beer and women flowers after they donate. Even in Taiwan, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who referred to himself as a "blood horse", made his 100th blood donation, urging the public to roll up their sleeves to respond to blood donation enthusiastically. There were more than 5,000 people in Taiwan who had made more than 100 blood donations.
For a long time, blood donations in many Chinese cities were more or less organized. Organized blood donation started in the 1980s as a means of meeting local demand for blood at hospitals when the rate of donations was low. The blood donation quota was distributed among a city’s districts by the municipal government. It had to be fulfilled by government departments, enterprises and institutions in each district. In order to encourage employees to participate in voluntary blood donation, many work units would give cash compensation as well a short paid holiday to donors.
At present, more than 60 per cent of Shanghai’s blood supply has come from such donations rather than volunteers who receive no money or holidays. With a compulsory element, people were chosen as donors to give blood and, in return, get compensated and even rewarded with holidays by their work units or companies. The drawback to the system is that companies unable to fulfill quotas will hire blood sellers, whose blood quality is inferior due to their frequent donations. There are illegal blood donation gangs that persuade people to donate blood in exchange for money. Those they found to donate the blood pretended to be workers from the city’s State-owned enterprises. These firms were willing to go along with the scheme because it meant they could then claim they had fulfilled their quota of donations they need to supply each year.
Local people are still reluctant to donate blood even as demand soars in Shanghai, which provides treatment to patients from all over the nation and is fast becoming an aging city, where the population of elderly, the most physically vulnerable section, is growing. In addition to people’s reluctance, enterprises’ inducement of extra cash to employees for fulfilling their quotas also prevents people from giving blood voluntarily. Safety is still one of the major concerns for potential donors.
Urgent appeals were release as there is a serious shortage of a certain type of blood in the local blood banks. Hospitals in Shanghai have been postponing elective surgery on people with blood of the type because of a blood shortage.
China will phase out planned voluntary donations from State-owned enterprises to eliminate illegal blood sales that have partly been responsible for rising HIV infections. Beijing scraped blood donation quotas for university students. Shanghai is also working to make blood donation a voluntary, rather than compulsory, process. Authorities even found a new way to attract people to donate blood with lure of lottery tickets! A local college student did win a new car in a lucky draw for blood donors.