Plasma and platelets at an onerous cost
To acquire plasma, in addition to a medical indication, patients need to pay between RD$2,500 and RD$3,500. Leonel Matos/daily list
Santo Domingo, DR
Two of the most critical blood components, platelets, and plasma, are highly expensive for Dominican patients.
In addition to the shortage of donors affecting the country, obtaining these two elements amid a health emergency could result in a cumbersome and desperate situation.
The prices that citizens must pay to acquire platelets are well above the minimum wage in the country. In the capital’s leading laboratories and blood banks, the value of platelets ranges between RD$22,000 and RD$25,000 if it is a donation of “platelets by apheresis,” in which blood is extracted from a single donor through a specialized machine to obtain its components. This method generates more reliability for both the doctors and the patient.
Generally, this type of platelet collection is required by high-risk patients who have had cancer or leukemia, received a transplant, or suffer from blood disorders.
However, the cost of this health service drops considerably to about RD$5,000 when the type of platelet donation is “standard.” Unlike apheresis, blood from several donors is used to extract the components of standard platelets. For a person to obtain platelets, they must bring their donor of the same type of blood required.
Also, as explained by one of the people in charge of the blood bank at Laboratorios Referencia, “the donor must always be male since women cannot donate because they tend to have deficient hemoglobin levels.”
One of the reasons offered by the laboratories to justify the high cost of platelets is the short storage time, which is four to five days.
To acquire plasma, in addition to a medical indication, patients need to pay between RD$2,500 and RD$3,500, also required in this process to get their donor.
At the Centro de la Sangre y Especialidades, one of the banks consulted, they pointed out that the amount may vary if the plasma goes to a clinic or hospital. However, if it goes to the latter, “the price of the blood component qualifies for a discount of 500 pesos.”
Due to the lack of donors, some blood banks have found it necessary to operate by receiving only “replacement donors,” charging about RD$6,000 and even RD$7,500 per pint.
In most laboratories and blood banks, health insurance does not cover these procedures.