When you donate blood, you are doing something good to help others in need. But when donating to certain organizations, including the American Red Cross, your blood donation isn’t freely given to hospitals, as many may believe. Hospitals have to pay for it.
In a viral TikTok video posted by creator Conscious Lee (@theconciouslee), Lee exposes the truth about whether the Red Cross sells donated blood to hospitals. Green Matters also did our own investigating into the question, and here’s what we found.
A TikTok is exposing the Red Cross for selling donated blood to hospitals.
The Conscious Lee TikTok video, originally posted in 2021 and reposted on Oct. 2, 2023, looks at a viral 2021 Twitter post in which a woman claims the Red Cross sells donated blood to hospitals.
“Today I learned the Red Cross sells your donated blood to hospitals for $150 and then that hospital charges you thousands for a blood transfusion. I hate it here,” said the tweet by @maymayhem88.
“Hey, I didn’t wanna believe it, so I did a little digging,” said Conscious Lee, “and I found the American Red Cross, a nonprofit organization, does not pay their donors, but they do sell the blood they collect.”
In the video, Conscious Lee displayed an article titled “Blood Donors Aren’t Getting Paid, But Their Blood is Being Sold.” The article appeared in May 2017 on the student news site “On The Edge News” for Edgewood College in Madison, Wis.
Lee read a comment by Red Cross Communications Manager Christy Peters, who was quoted in the article: “I wouldn’t be able to speak to why donors would be paid.”
The article continued, “For many donors and people thinking about donating, it may not be common knowledge that the Red Cross is selling their donated blood.”
“Blew my mind,” Conscious Lee said. He then showed a 2006 report from The Explainer about the Red Cross using revenue from the “sales of blood products” to pay a $4.2 million fine for “violating blood-safety laws.”
“Does the Red Cross really sell our blood? Hell yeah they do,” Conscious Lee said. He then referred to a comment made on the original tweet by @maymayhem88 that claimed the Red Cross didn’t test its blood supply early in the HIV epidemic after learning the disease was transmissible in blood.
“If you really want your mind blown about this Red Cross thing, pause it and read that right there,” Conscious Lee said, pointing to the comment. “Capitalism has a hoarding issue.”
Many who commented on Conscious Lee’s video said they knew the Red Cross sold the blood they collected. Several pointed out that the money obtained by selling blood is likely used to pay for the costs of collecting blood, like staff, supplies, storage, and transport.
Does the Red Cross really sell donated blood?
Yes, claims that the Red Cross sells donated blood are “mostly true,” reports PolitiFact, a fact-checking website run by the Poynter Institute. In 2022, PolitiFact looked into the same tweet by @maymayhem88 after it resurfaced on Facebook.
While it’s true that the Red Cross sells donated blood to hospitals, what the organization charges varies and isn’t necessarily $150, like the tweet claimed. The cost of a blood transfusion also varies depending on a patient’s health insurance coverage, PolitiFact stated.
If you want to know the process your blood donation goes through, the Red Cross outlines that process on its website. However, the website doesn’t mention anything about the sale of donations to hospitals.