Back Society » Health » Cash-Strapped University Students in Vietnam Resort to Platelet Donations Despite Health Risks

A wave of Vietnamese students who experience economic hardships have resorted to selling their platelets regularly in order to make ends meet.

Risking adverse health effects, students ignore recommendations from doctors and donate platelets frequently, as reported by Tuoi Tre. Some return to the hospital as many as three times per month for the procedure.

Platelets are the constituents of blood that serve as coagulents, stopping bleeding by clumping and clotting blood vessels when injuries occur.

Director of Ho Chi Minh City Blood Transfusion and Hematology Phu Chi Dung explained to Tuoi Tre that a donor can lose up to 20% of their platelet count each time that they donate.

Donated platelets are often used during transfusions for cancer patients, whose platelet counts are often drastically reduced as a result of their treatments. Donated platelets also serve to aid patients that have undergone major surgeries or severe injuries by replacing those that have been lost through bleeding. The American Red Cross deems them "essential to surviving and fighting cancer, chronic diseases, and traumatic injuries.”

Tuoi Tre reports that on a particular day at the blood transfusion center of Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, by 8am, there are about 25 people lined up outside the platelet donation room ready to donate. Most of those people were in their 20s.

Experienced donors say that platelets are favored over whole blood by hospitals and thus are sold by donors for a higher price. They can also be donated more regularly, although there are risks involved.

People who donate frequently do so at the risk of infections, transfusion-related lung injuries, and circulatory overload, according to Live Strong, a website dedicated to health awareness. Despite these risks, some local donors have been donating up to 500 millimeters of platelets at a time, earning up to USD$30.84 (VND700,000) per visit, depending on their physical fitness and the prescriptions of their doctors.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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