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Cablegate: Guangdong Illegal Blood Trading Ring Uncovered

VZCZCXRO1969
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0206/01 0940918
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030918Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7029
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000206

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM
HHS PASS TO FIC/NIH
BANGKOK FOR RMO, CDC, USAID
BEIJING FOR HHS HEALTH ATTACHE AND RMO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO PGOV EAID SOCI CH
SUBJECT: Guangdong Illegal Blood Trading Ring Uncovered


(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (U) Summary: Since 1998, when Guangzhou first officially
permitted citizens to donate blood, authorities have attempted to
combat the illegal trade of blood supplies amid fears of disease
transmission, especially HIV/AIDS. Recently, authorities have
identified a string of cases in which Guangzhou Blood Center
employees have aided patients in obtaining blood platelets from
illegal trading rings for a fee. The trade can be highly profitable
because platelet supplies are so low. Local law enforcement and
health authorities have created a joint task force to further
investigate the illegal operations, and have made several arrests in
the process. End summary.

-------------------------------
Corruption in Local Blood Banks
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) The regulation of blood centers remains an ongoing
challenge in south China. In 2007 alone, local authorities
reportedly shut down 4,915 blood banks amid allegations of faulty
operations, including violations of established blood collecting
regulations. Even more difficult to monitor is illegal blood trade
operations that often involve blood center personnel. Despite
continued campaigns prohibiting blood trading, including a 2005
campaign launched by the national Ministry of Health, illegal
operations have once again surfaced in Guangdong. Authorities have
uncovered cases of dealers securing blood platelets from municipal
blood centers, and selling the supply to ill patients in need of
platelet transfusions.

3. (SBU) Most recently, a security guard supervisor at the Guangzhou
Blood Center, one of many employees allegedly working as middlemen
in sales transactions. The mother of a leukemia patient turned him
in after he offered to arrange a transfusion for her daughter. The
patient had been unable to obtain a transfusion due to a shortage of
platelets at the center. Out of desperation, her mother went to the
center herself, only to be approached by the security guard who
assured her that he could successfully find a donor in exchange for
1,000 yuan (USD 140) per unit of platelets.

4. (SBU) According to media reports, blood trade middlemen, like the
security guard supervisor, are able to profit from these deals,
usually earning RMB 1000 - 1200 (USD 143-170) per transaction.
However, most of the revenue is collected by the ringleaders, who
can earn estimated hundreds of thousands up to RMB 1 million per
year (about USD 143,000). Often the deals involve additional actors,
such as the informer, the organizer, and the blood seller, who each
take a cut. If the blood type is rare, the illegal ring profits even
more.


--------------------------------------------- ---------
Purchasing Platelets: illegal solutions for low supply
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. (U) Obtaining a platelet transfusion which aids in the body's
natural blood clotting process, is not easy in Guangdong due
primarily to low supply levels. In 2007, approximately 300,000
people donated whole blood, raising the Guangzhou Blood Center's
supply to approximately 59 tons. Although this supply is nearly
adequate to meet demand, the amount of blood platelets donated is
not. Transfusion patients in Guangzhou need about 30,000 units of
platelets annually, but the city has been unable to meet this goal.

6. (SBU) The shortage of platelets is caused both by a lack of
public awareness and the logistics of the donating procedure. In
order to donate platelets, a donor must first undergo a
comprehensive physical exam. In the procedure itself platelets are
subtracted from the donated blood, and the rest of the blood is
returned to the donor's body. Also, in the case of general blood
donations, supplies have a shelf-life of two weeks; platelets can
only be used up to five days after the initial donation. To address
these problems, Fu Yongshui, Director of the Guangzhou Blood Center,
told reporters that the Center plans to establish an additional 14
blood platelet donation locations.

----------------------
Catching the Criminals
----------------------

7. (SBU) Fu also said that each year the Guangzhou Blood Center

GUANGZHOU 00000206 002 OF 002


purges security and cleaning staff to combat corruption, and
requires platelet donors to supply fingerprints to ensure that
donations are made at least four weeks apart. In some cases, people
donate only to profit from the illegal trade. According to a media
report, one man gave blood 16 times over a twelve-month period, with
the expectation that he would profit from a potential customer. In
addition, local police authorities and the Guangdong Provincial
Health Department have created a joint task force that is currently
investigating the extent of the blood trade and the players
involved. Thus far, several culprits, both employees of the blood
center and members of the trading rings, have been identified and
subsequently arrested.

GOLDBERG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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