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HEC Forum. 2015 Dec;27(4):319-30. doi: 10.1007/s10730-015-9267-7.

Errors and Omissions: Donor Compensation Policies and Richard Titmuss.

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Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, Annapolis, MD, USA.
Department of Science and Technology in Society, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, Annapolis, MD, USA.
Department of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia.


Many global and national systems of regulation of blood donors and donor compensation rely for intellectual support on Richard Titmuss's views, represented in The Gift Relationship. Based on selective interpretation of data from the 1960s, Titmuss engineered an ethical view pertaining to donors and, in so doing, created not only ongoing stereotypes, but created a cause for followers to perpetuate misunderstandings about the nature of such donations. In many cases, donors are, in fact compensated, but regulatory systems persevere in using definitional fig leaves in order to perpetuate an ongoing political goal of diminishing private sector participation in health care. However, in more recent works, including new views of critical sociology and evolutionary psychology, the Titmuss worldview has been turned upside-down. Evidence readily available today proves the safety of compensated donation and the lives saved by encouraging policies for both compensated and non-compensated donation.


Blood donation; Plasma donation; Richard Titmuss

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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