Vancouver Sun Sat., Jan.14, 1978
Jail blood barred in health fear
officials cannot collect blood from inmates in penal institutions.
a prisoner at Mission Medium Security Institution isn't too happy about
it. Red Cross officials, however say the rule is necessary and helps to
protect the health of people receiving transfusions.
letter to The Vancouver Sun, an inmate (who chose to remain anonymous)
described how he was greeted on the phone by the Vancouver Red Cross
when he called to say he had 200 available donors at the institution. He
said he was told they had a shortage of staff at the Red Cross and that
they couldn't get around to them until March. He asked in his letter if inmate's blood isn't good enough to donate.
"Now I wonder is there really a shortage of staff? Or is our blood
different than other humans?"
it is, according to a Red Cross spokesman. Florence Edwards, director of
blood donor recruitment for the Red Cross in Vancouver, said they
received directives from their Toronto headquarters in
1973, that they could no longer collect blood from inmates in
Prior to this, she said, prisons were one of their largest
sources of blood. The reason? Hepatitis.
at the time there was only about a 35-percent chance of discovering the
disease in carriers. And the rate of hepatitis was very high among
was simply too much of a chance to take. She said she was sorry the inmate who called in got
the impression they were putting him off: "He probably hit us in
a crisis situation. At this time our phones are really busy." She
said they have many volunteers helping them out and he may have reached
one of them.
said their Red Cross teams are committed to specific centres "three
or four months in advance" and that they can't drop everything
and go. They must plan their clinics. She said: "We're not
against them (the inmates) - we have medical reasons for doing
Roger Perrault, national director of Canadian Red Cross blood
transfusions services, was reached in Toronto Friday and said
ruling came down when they discovered the high rate of hepatitis among
inmates. "The hepatitis virus has only recently been
discovered." He said the rate was between
three and seven times higher in inmates than in
He said that, even with a much higher rate of detection these days,
they cannot afford to take the chance.