We have a valuable export in this country!

It’s blood.

America is one of the only developed countries in the world that pays people to donate blood, much of it sold abroad (70% of the world’s plasma is of US origin), and as commercial blood donations have soared, blood now accounts for 2% of the country’s exports — more than corn or soya.

There’s more growth ahead for blood products, expected to “grow radiantly” according to an analyst who was cheering 13% growth between 2016-17.

I had a hard time believing that, so I checked the source, and sure enough, 2.3% of US exports are of human or animal blood and vaccines, and it’s more than the value of our corn and soybean exports. To put it in perspective, though, our exports of refined petroleum are worth more than twice that.

So, I guess, there’s a market for American blood and oil.

If inequality continues as it has, perhaps there’ll someday a market for other human biological products. Pig meat products are only .36% of our exports, we could expand that by adding long pig.

We could also hope for a big boom in the vampire population.


  1. wzrd1 says

    Well, we also are exporting human skin.
    “On 11 December, it was reported that New Zealand had ordered 1,200,000 square centimetres (190,000 sq in) of skin from the United States and Australia to treat patients following the eruption, some of whom have burns on up to 95% of their body.”

    So, at least we have some skin in the game.
    Hoping for a full recovery for the victims of the eruption.

  2. says

    And you all thought we’d have jet packs and flying cars by now. Turns out we live in a world filled with corporate vampires who actually suck our blood to sustain themselves. I hate this version of the 21st century. It’s starting to make Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome look good.

  3. Zeppelin says

    Seems a bit on-the-nose for the Capitalist Nightmare Empire to literally be selling the blood of its poor.

  4. robro says

    I assume the operative word here is “sell” not the blood or other bits of humans that might help someone live…like skin for skin grafts for burn victims. Those products are probably a great boon to countries where there aren’t adequate resources…healthy people willing to do it or recently deceased people who have signed the release. However, capitalizing on this business does seem unsavory, but it is an old business. In my youthful days of the 70’s, there was a brisk business in individuals selling their blood. People actually budgeted around how often they could sell some a pint.

  5. says

    <maybesarcasm> Since Twitter and Facebook are also US, umm, “exports,” what does the study say about the value of human excretions being exported? </maybesarcasm>

  6. chrislawson says

    A bit of caution in that data:

    — it’s not just human blood products, it’s ‘human or animal blood and vaccines’
    — it is next to impossible to work out what is what within that category; I checked the original data tree and it is not broken down enough to tell how much of those exports is derived from humans
    the US imports $26.8B and imports $26.2B

    In short, it’s hard to draw much information from that data. Having said that, the US is a perfect illustration of the dangers of paid blood donations in an anti-egalitarian society. For-profit collection sites tend to be in poor neighborhoods and the donors are given small payments for unsafe practices (they can donate up to twice a week in some areas!) while the companies make extraordinary profit margins. This last point itself proves the ‘invisible hand’ is not at work or competition for donors would drive incentives up. The only reason blood collectors can make such huge profits while paying donors so little is because of local monopolisation plus a reliance on financial desperation.

    There is good evidence that paid donations reduce the volume of donations and blood safety, which is why the WHO recommends 100% volunteer donations. To quote a recent systematic review, the overall evidence is not strong enough to make firm recommendations but ‘No incentive has been identified that all segments of the nondonor and donor panel report positive attitudes toward, that has a positive impact on behavior, and that has no negative impact on blood safety.’

    This is only paradoxical for those with the blinkered homo mercenarius view of humanity. I had the displeasure of finding a reference to an AABB presentation that started with ‘nothing is free in life’ before going on to insist that paid donations were the best option. This despite the fact that many countries have perfectly functional blood donation systems that rely 100% on volunteers. It is observably false that no things in life free, with blood donation being an actual exemplar. The fact that this contra-reality bullshit was published is bad enough, but appearing in official proceedings of the official umbrella group of American blood banks? What an indictment of the AABB. See also if you can spot the glaring idiocy in this article arguing for Australian blood donations to be incentivised. (Hint, the author thinks the cost of blood products in Australia will go down if we add $50 incentives per donation because, well, markets are magic.)

  7. Ridana says

    Isn’t “commercial blood donations” a bit oxymoronic? If you’re being paid, you’re not donating, you’re selling.

    The twice-a-week sales that chrislawson mentioned @ 9 are plasma, not whole blood, so twice a week is safe. Pretty much no one buys whole blood. It’s not illegal to pay people for their blood, but it has to be marked that it was bought and hospitals won’t use it unless it was donated.

    I used to sell plasma in college and that required getting an injection (don’t recall for what) to stimulate antibody production for whatever they were after (I just did it because it paid more – ordinary plasma can also be sold, since there’s still a ton of stuff they can harvest from it). Unfortunately, from my perspective at the time, I could only do this for about a month or so, and once my antibody titer dropped below a certain level, they weren’t interested in my plasma at all, and I had to wait 6 months or something before getting spiked again. By then I didn’t need to.

    Weirdly, I actually enjoyed the plasmapheresis procedure, especially when they returned the packed cells and saline. It was cold, and I could track where all the veins in my arm were as it dispersed. :)

    At any rate, it’s a pretty typical capitalist endeavor, where the actual producers get paid pennies, while the corporations rake in the serious bucks after markups.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    In Sweden, blood donors get coffee and a sandwich. And sometimes a coffee cup (at a nominal cost) with a blood-donors logo.
    Have you been reading the news nately? At least three english-speaking countries (Merca, Britland and Australia) are currently led by proxies for a ruthless cabal. I am not certain of their species, but they cannot be human.*
    *No, I am not blaming ze joos . That is a MAGA/NSDAP thing.

  9. seachange says

    There are rules about how often you can donate blood even in America. But it doesn’t apply to non-citizens, so companies get Mexicans to cross the border so they can ignore these rules and characterize donors as contract workers.

    So all this blood that the USofA sells? Might not have been ours to start with. We are the vampires.