Red Cross President Responds to Claims of Unsafe Blood Supply in USA Today Letter
In response to Scott Gottlieb's Jan. 4 commentary piece on an HIV-positive patient in New York City who, despite her history of intravenous drug use and serious medical problems, donated blood to obtain free HIV tests, American Red Cross President and CEO Dr. Bernadine Healy explains in an USA Today letter to the editor that "every blood center faces a risk if blood donors lie or conceal risky behaviors" on FDA-required forms. The American blood supply "relies on volunteer donors who give a piece of themselves to save another ... [in] a humanitarian act," she writes. Dishonesty during the screening process is a "reckless act" and can be a "criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison if the donor has tested positive for HIV and deceitfully donates," Healy notes. The blood supply is also "financially fragile," with blood services requiring "elaborate and highly technological screening, processing, testing, transporting and monitoring." Healy says, "It is preposterous and offensive to suggest, as [Gottlieb] does, that the Red Cross has incentives not to inform the public of possible risks to the blood supply.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.