Blood centre boss fired, six jailed over illegal sales

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2007, 12:00am

The director of a Guangdong blood centre has been sacked and six others jailed for illegal blood sales, and two blood stations in Hunan and Shanxi have been punished for other collection offences, the Health Ministry said yesterday.

Without naming the officials, ministry spokesman Mao Qunan said a director of the Jieyang municipal blood centre was sacked, and one of his deputies and a local health department official punished for their roles in improper blood collections.

Mr Mao said six other people had been jailed for between six and 18 months for illegally organising blood sales, and fabricating identity cards to help people repeatedly sell blood over short periods under false names.

'The key problems in the Jieyang blood station were that the proportion of commercial blood transactions was much higher than blood donations, and that there was a critical level of illegal blood collections from the same people in a short period and people selling blood under false names,' Mr Mao said.

In Shanxi , all blood collection stations were forced to close after one in Fangshan county failed to prescreen blood sellers, and its computer system failed to supply identities for all of the blood sellers.

Mr Mao said the provincial health department had withdrawn the Fangshan blood station's licence.

In Loudi , Hunan, a blood station run by Tsinghua Unisplendour Guhan Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation, a Shanghai-listed company, was fined 10,000 yuan for the same problems.

There were no figures of how many victims were affected by the cases in Shanxi and Hunan. The ministry said it had investigated whether the problems in Loudi could have led to contamination of some of the drug company's bio-pharmaceutical products. 'We will find out who has responsibility according to our law if [drug contamination] is confirmed,' Mr Mao said.

Illegal blood sales have caused massive health problems on the mainland, including the infection of millions of people with HIV.

Earlier this year, then health minister Gao Qiang issued a directive urging Beijing to ban all commercial blood sales.

To prevent more infections through blood transactions, the ministry yesterday ordered all blood stations on the mainland to install cameras in their collection rooms and offices by the end of October to monitor whether medical staff were following regulations.

HIV/Aids activist Hu Jia said he doubted whether the new policy would work given that all blood stations involved in illegal blood sales had been supported by local governments.

'All blood stations on the mainland are set up to make money, not save people's lives,' Mr Hu said. 'And all the stations are supported by local health department officials. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to run such a business.'