America's treasury of blood may not truly be open to Haiti. The organization that administers half of America's blood supply -- 13,000,000 units annually -- has only provided 750 units to the bleeding quake-torn nation of Haiti, just off the American coast.
The American Red Cross (not to be confused with the International Red Cross), though reporting it holds the keys to half of the nation's annual blood supply -- says it has only facilitated the shipment of 1,100 units (pints) of blood to the tens of thousands of gravely wounded in Haiti -- as of Wednesday, Feb. 3rd -- 22 days after the catastrophic earthquake. And, according to their Feb. 3rd press release, only 750 units of that blood was supplied by the ARC, itself -- the rest coming from other agencies.
This latest news reflects an apparent continuing problem at ARC in coming to grips with the Haitian catastrophe -- apparently the worst humanitarian natural disaster in the history of the Western Hemisphere.
In fact, on Jan. 15th, three days after the earthquake, the ARC's daily press release reported that they had just gotten around to sending "over 100 units of blood" to Haiti -- enough to treat (at most) a few dozen people -- while an estimated half-million were dead, dying or injured, with thousands of lives in immediate jeapordy for lack of medical care and blood. (The Jan.15th press release on their wesite has subsequently been purged of the actual number.)
The ARC website, at that time, further reassured the public that it was prepared to ship enough supplies for "5,000 families" -- in a country with over a million suddenly homeless and desperate.
This falls on the heels of ARC's much-criticized performance in America's last two major catastrophes. In 2001, following the 9/11 terror attacks, ARC was criticized for sluggish distribution of donations to victims. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, ARC fell under heavy criticism -- from fellow Red Cross organizations abroad, and the Government Accountability Office at home -- for inept planning, preparation and respose to the massive disaster.
With the trickle of American blood reaching Haiti, through the ARC, some historian is sure to notice a bit of irony. During the 1970s, exploiting the desperate poverty of Haiti, various major American companies purchased massive quantities -- "truckloads" -- of Haitian blood, paying Haitian blood donors $3 a pint for it, while re-selling it for a massively profitable $35 a pint in the U.S.. International outrage, the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, and a rise in poverty in the U.S., put an end to the trade in Haitian blood, that had so benefitted the U.S. But today, there seems little reward for the nation that bled to serve American lives.
Some have noted that ARC's primary responsibilty is the United States, not Haiti (which, officially, is supposed to be cared for by another Red Cross organization - ICRC-Haiti). But immediately after the earthquake, the ARC began providing opportunities for people to donate to Haitian earthquake relief -- by sending money to the ARC. Several million dollars have been raised for Haiti relief thus far, by the ARC.
Now, as hundreds of thousands of Haitians suffer -- many still dying -- the American Red Cross web site (www.redcross.org) continues churning out positive daily reassurances that is is bringing massive aid to Haiti. Just not a lot of the most precious commodity, for Haitians, now: blood.
For more information, see the following online sources:
"Haiti earthquake — by the numbers"
Associated Press on Yahoo News
Hospital Resource Center,
Mid-Atlantic Blood Services Region,
American Red Cross
not dated (apparently 2001)
"The Disaster Within The Disaster: Its Time To Investigate the Aid Fiasco"
"Nationwide Foundation Donates $1.7 Million to American Red Cross for Disaster Preparedness and Response and Increased Blood Collections"
American Red Cross
April 16, 2009
"American Red Cross Releases $10 Million to Help Haiti"
National HQ, Amer. Red Cross
Jan 15, 2010
Original version, recorded on Google Cache "as it appeared on Jan 15, 2010 16:52:26 GMT".
"The American Red Cross is also helping the injured who may need blood. More than 100 units of blood and blood products were shipped to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, and then on to Guantanamo Bay in support of medical evacuees from Haiti."
Subsequent revision, still dated Jan. 15,
but downloaded Feb. 4,
from ARC website, at original version's original location:
"The American Red Cross is also helping the injured who may need blood. Blood and blood products were shipped to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, and then on to Guantanamo Bay in support of medical evacuees from Haiti."
"Haiti quake aid snarled; up to 50,000 feared dead"
[immediately subsequent AP reports estimated 200,000 dead]
in Seattle-Tacoma News Tribune (TheNewsTribune.com)
Jan.15, 2010 - posted at 9:32 pm
"A Deluge of Donations via Text Messages"
New York Times (NYTimes.com)
Jan 19, 2010
...noting ARC's troubled past performance in catastrophe
"Corporate muscle is brought to bear on national disaster planning"
...noting ARC's troubled performance in catastrophe
"Aids and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame"
by Paul Farmer
(1992, 2006 Regents Press, Univ. of Calif., Berkeley and Los Angeles, Calif.)
on Google Books at:
"Paid donation and plasma trade:
Unrecognized forces that drive the AIDS epidemic in developing countries"
International Journal of STD & AIDS
Volume 16, Number 1, Pp. 5-8
Int J STD AIDS 2005;16:5-8
2005, Royal Society of Medicine Press, Ltd.