Town Square

Feature story: Power of the people

Original post made on Dec 14, 2012

All year long -- not just during the holiday season -- volunteers quietly work behind the scenes, providing nonprofit organizations with the fuel to keep them running. Photos by Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Online.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 14, 2012, 7:59 AM


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Posted by Flutterby
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I hate to sound ungrateful, and some will say I am being mean, but my question is: since Stanford Blood Center is so dependent on so many volunteers, why is it so very expensive when you have to receive a pint of blood? And, why is it so expensive when you give your own autologous blood before serious surgery?

I have been told twice that it is labor intensive (?), but even nurses and doctors have been unable to give me details of what makes up this outrageous expense that the Blood Center charges. And, the insurance companies refuse to cover it, stating that Stanford overcharges for taking and giving and storing blood.

What gives?? I really want to know, and have been unable to get answers for Stanford or anyone else involved.

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Posted by Mark
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Flutterby, this is actually a very common question. The costs come from processing the blood, testing the blood from infectious disease and storage.

When someone donates a pint of blood, it is first usually "leukoreduced" to remove White Blood Cells (which can cause complications in some patients receving the transfusion) through a special filter. Blood is then seperated into multiple components - the actual Red Blood cells, plasma, platelets and cyroprecpitate.

You also then have to test for infectious disease - around 7 diseases such as HIV, Hep B, Hep C, Syphilis, Chagas, HTLV and West Nile - along with testing the blood type. Some of these microbiological tests are surprisingly expensive in itself.

You mention that "self" transfusions should not be as expensive, but it probably still is because it's not usual for the hospital to have to track and store the blood for a particular donor. There are additional safeguards that must be put into place to ensure the blood is yours.

I don't work Stanford Blood Center but these practices are pretty consistent among the different agencies.