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Demanding pure motives for donation: the moral acceptability of blood donations by haemochromatosis patients
  1. G Pennings
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr G Pennings
 Ghent University, Centre for Environmental Philosophy and Bioethics, Department of Philosophy, Blandijnberg 2, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium;


Blood banks all over the world attempt to cover the demand for blood by donations from voluntary non-remunerated donors. The discussion regarding the acceptability of blood donations by haemochromatosis patients focuses on the question of whether health benefits violate the rule of the altruistic donor. Utilitarian and deontological arguments for and against the policy of accepting blood donors who need to let blood regularly in order to stay healthy are considered by this article. A closer look at the procedure reveals that the confusion is due to the conflation of, on the one hand the phlebotomy, and on the other hand, the decision about the destination of the blood afterwards. The health benefits are connected to the phlebotomy and not to the donation. The morally relevant point in the decision as to whether the candidate is a truly altruistic donor is whether he donates without asking for a benefit in return. It is concluded that haemochromatosis patients can be free, voluntary, and altruistic blood donors.

  • altruism
  • blood
  • donation
  • haemochromatosis
  • motivation

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  • Research for this article was made possible by grant G.0065.00 from the Fund for Scientific Research—Flanders, Belgium.