Blood Donations Drop as Chinese Lose Faith in Red Cross

October 4, 2011 Updated: October 4, 2011

Blood centers in several Chinese provinces are severely short as the public, bereft of trust in the China Red Cross after a series of public embezzlement scandals, has begun feeling less charitable with its blood. Hospitals have had to delay surgeries because of the shortages.

Blood centers most badly hit include those in Shenzhen of Guangdong Province and Zhengzhou of Henan Province.

Lan Yuxiao, chief of the Shenzhen Blood Center, told Southern Metropolis Daily on Sept. 29 that they had only 60 liters of O-type blood in storage, which would only last about two days.

Many of the large hospitals in the area have delayed operations because of the shortage.

Nor was an emergency notice issued in early September received as well as previous years: hardly any new donors turned up, a sharp contrast to previous shortages.

A crisis of public faith in China Red Cross stands behind the scandal. That began with the flamboyant Guo Meimei, a 20-year-old who in June of this year identified herself as an “affiliate” of China Red Cross while flaunting her collection of designer handbags and a Maserati luxury car online.

The public assumed that Red Cross’s charity money paid for those items, and the institution has not recovered its credibility since.

“So far we have directly experienced that, not only were charity organizations hit hard by the Guo Meimei scandal, people’s enthusiasm for donating blood has also been frozen,” a spokesman at the Shenzhen Blood Center said.

“Many organizations and work units now tell us that they will not donate blood if it is for the Red Cross. Consequently, we are experiencing an unprecedentedly difficult time,” the spokesman added.

Staff at the Shenzhen Blood Center have been explaining to people that although the blood collection drives and the volunteers’ vests all have the Red Cross logo printed on them, they are not affiliated with the Red Cross, and the blood they collect won’t be sent to the Red Cross either.

They later began using their own staff rather than Red Cross volunteers, and even pulled the Red Cross logos from their blood collection centers in Shenzhen.

Blood donations in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, also dropped sharply in mid-September after rumors spread that the Red Cross there had resold donated blood for profit.

Over one hundred surgeries were delayed or canceled because of the blood shortages during a 3-day period in mid-September in a major hospital, according to a report by Hong Kong’s Sun News.

China Red Cross has been plagued by a number of other financial scandals. Audits by China’s National Audit Office published in June found nearly 2.2 million yuan unaccounted for on the Red Cross books. In 2010, 1.94 million yuan in donations went unaccounted for. Another 4.2 million yuan was improperly used.

According to Chinese media reports, every level of China Red Cross is administered by a corresponding Chinese Communist Party committee. Though it claims to be a nonprofit, in reality it is a governmental organization, these reports conclude.