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Shanghai Sets New Lures for Blood Donors

Shanghai is trying out two new incentives to address its chronic blood shortage: free medical examinations and accident insurance for donors.

When the plans are fully implemented, Shanghai will be the first city in the nation to offer these innovations.

According to the Shanghai Blood Administration Office, 1,406 people gave 340 liters of blood during the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, a 30 percent increase over the same period last year.

However, the festival period is a slow time for blood donations overall, and despite the higher numbers this year the city's reserves are getting low.

"Since most enterprises and universities don't organize donations by their staff and students during the Lunar New Year, the present storage is approaching the 600-liter alarm point," said Song Qi, a spokesman for the blood administration. "Moreover, clinical demand for blood is due to rise sharply, as many patients will undergo surgeries after the festival."

Song said local hospitals use some 180 to 220 liters of blood a day, raising the need for more incentives for donors.

"We are talking with the Shanghai No. 6 People's Hospital to give free health examinations for regular donors starting late next month. The requirements for donation amounts are still under discussion," Song said. "For instance, people donating eight liters may enjoy an annual checkup, while those giving one liter may receive only a single exam."

Meanwhile, blood collection centers in the Minhang and Jiading districts are giving every donor a one-year, 7,000-yuan (US$843) policy covering accidental injuries. Minhang launched the program in June, while Jiading began last month. City officials said they may introduce the incentives to other districts if they prove effective.

"Through December, 4,681 donors received the insurance, and everyone said they were encouraged to give a second donation," said Yang Haiyan, vice director of the Minhang District Blood Administration Office.

(Shanghai Daily February 18, 2005)

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