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Blood donor scam claims farmer's life

A VILLAGE farmer who was enticed to join a blood donor's scam in central China died from septicemia after donating blood four times in a short period.

Li Jianjun, 46, a villager of Yicheng County of Shanxi Province's Linfen City, died on January 17, and is survived by two children, the Shanghai Morning Post reported today.

The villager led a poor life with his children after his wife died of cancer in 2006. He sold blood for the first time in October last year after he was recruited by a middle-aged woman who came to the village looking for donors.

Li Jianjun's brother Li Jianguo said the woman told the poor villagers they could get free medical checkups while making money by giving blood at a clinic in neighboring Quwo County.

She organized a bus to take the villagers to the clinic. About 30 villagers went on each trip, giving 400ml of blood each time and most received 145 yuan plus a bottle of cooking oil or a bag of rice worth 30 yuan.

But Li Jianjun found he was growing weaker every time he made a donation. After the fourth, his health deteriorated seriously and he was sent to the Yicheng County Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital where he died on January 17.

Li Jianjun's doctor Kong Guofang said he had died from septicemia, a blood disease which could have been caused by an infection during the blood donations. Nearly no red blood cells were found in his blood and an extraordinarily high number of white blood cells was detected, the doctor said.

The woman who organized the blood donations disappeared after Li's death, villagers said. No one in the village knows her identity.

Like Li Jianjun, his neighbors Li Cuihua, 42, and Wang Xiaobao, 37, had been frequent blood donors. Both sold blood six times but stopped after Li Jianjun's death. They said more than 20 people in their village had given blood regularly.

Li Cuihua said anyone was allowed to give blood at the blood clinic and only had to show identification cards. If they did not have an ID card they paid a 100-yuan deposit. If they had any health problems, the middle-aged woman organizer would help them pass the medical checkup.

The blood donors could go to the clinic every fortnight ?national regulations say donors can give only once every 14 days.

Li Cuihua said she had received 340 yuan for two donations but this was not enough to buy glasses for her child.

The blood clinic involved, Quwo Kangbao Blood Co Ltd, says there is an investigation going on.

Company executive Zhang Jiangbo said the health authority is investigating. He denied that the company employed any people to organize blood donors. Blood selling and organizing sales are illegal.

But according to Zhang Gencang, the director of Linfen's blood center, the Kangbao company is not allowed to collect blood. Though the company building used to be one of the city's blood collecting outlets, the company was not a subsidiary of the blood center.


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