(Source: Ria Novosti, Dec. 2011

Russia has published a draft law enabling anyone, regardless of nationality or place of residence, to donate blood. The aim of the new law is to fill the country’s blood banks, as a lack of donor blood has long been one of Russia’s vital problems.

Moscow’s blood deposits are enough to cover only 70 percent of cases; in the whole country, the figure hardly tops 50 per cent.

Hoping to improve the situation, Russian officials have decided to widen the list of those who can donate blood – and once the new law is signed, virtually anyone will be welcome at blood donation centers, including citizens of other countries and even the homeless.

“The draft law says that any person will be able donate blood,” Lyudmila Stebenkova, head of the Moscow Duma’s Public Health Committee, told RT.

“So, for example, if a migrant comes to a blood-donation center and the doctors refuse to take their blood, he or she can go to court and certainly win the case.”

The new law, however, focuses on voluntary donations only, leaving behind paid ones. This could radically reduce the number of blood donors, health specialists say.

“Ninety-five percent of plasma donors are paid, as well as 55 percent of blood donors,” said Olga Mayorova, the chief doctor at a blood transfusion station. “If we ban paid donations, we will lose many of those donors.”

Paid donors, meanwhile, are the donation stations’ most valuable clients, Mayorova pointed out, as most of them carefully watch their health. According to regulations, the blood could be used for blood transfusion only if its donor was checked in six months before the donation, ensuring he was not carrying any infection.

Moreover, the homeless would probably not be keep on donating blood for free.

“Imagine a homeless person turns up and donates his blood,” Stebenkova told RT. “We have to feed him – according with the law. And then he turns out to be HIV-positive."

Due to the proposed open policy, Stebenkova continues, "We wouldn’t even be able to find him.”