The Bloody Business of the Cabinet of Ministers: How the Blood of Ukrainians Is Exported to Other Countries

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The other day the media spread news with reference to Medprosveshcheniye’s website that the Cabinet of Ministers decided to sell the blood of Ukrainians abroad.

“As the government said, referring to the data of the Ministry of Healthcare, as of now in Ukraine not only is there enough donor blood to meet internal demand, but there are also leftovers. The government also suggests to sell the leftovers,” it was specified in the news.

Journalists of “Vesti” rechecked the information and came to a conclusion: it isn’t completely unreliable.

The Ukrainian government hasn’t just thought about exporting the blood of its citizens abroad – this has been going on already for a long time. On May 25th, 2015, when Stanitsa Luganskaya was being shelled, the Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed a decree. The document gave special permission for the realisation outside the borders of Ukraine of components of donor blood and preparations made of donor blood.

It is the Ukrainian company “Biofarma” that was granted permission for this. The day prior it concluded agreements with partners in Georgia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan for the sum of $7.5 million. The chairman of the board of directors is the businessman Konstantin Efimenko – the Minister of Transport and Communications (March-December, 2010), the first deputy Minister of Infrastructure (December, 2010 – April, 2014).

It is the Ministry of Healthcare that was headed by the Georgian expert Aleksandr Kvitashvili that lobbied the question of assigning special permission. The department claimed that the preparations of blood of “Biofarma” don’t affect their ability to satisfy healthcare requirements [in Ukraine – ed], although the company makes preparations from the plasma of donor blood, recombinant preparations (for example, they are prescribed for oncology, hemophilia, hepatitises), probiotics, and traditional drugs.

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The formulation “don’t affect the needs of the population of Ukraine” is key here. Otherwise, the exporting of blood outside the borders of the country would be impossible under the law.

As for the demand for blood, there are problems with this in Ukraine. According to the recommendations of WHO (World Health Organisation), 12-15 milliliters of blood have to be prepared for every resident of the country. If to increase this volume by the population of Ukraine – according to State Statistics Service of Ukraine this is 42,273,264 people – we will receive a demand of 634,099 liters per year. Now, according to different data, about 400,000 liters are being prepared.

There are 10 donors for every 1000 Ukrainians. From them 70% are those who donate blood as a one-off. In Europe the situation is much better: there are 40 donors for every 1000 people; in the US there are 60 donors for every 1000 people.

The Acting Minister of Healthcare Ulana Suprun also spoke about the need for blood. Moreover, on October 13th, 2016, she personally donated blood in front of the media’s cameras and urged everyone who isn’t indifferent to do the same – in order to “save the lives to Ukrainian soldiers”.

The Kiev City Blood Center also appealed to the residents of the capital with the same request, to Kharkov citizens – volunteers from the “Sister of Mercy of the ATO” organisation, and to the inhabitants of Dnepropetrovsk – the regional hospital of Mechnikov. The Zaporozhye City Emergency and Urgent Care Unit even more so declared a menacing deficiency of donor blood and announced a marathon for its donation.

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At the same time the Ukrainian company continued to export preparations from the plasma of donor blood. This became possible thanks to three subsequent decrees of the Cabinet of Ministers – one signed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, two signed by Vladimir Groysman.

The last special permission, as is seen in the screenshot, will act during 2018. Earlier it was reported that the prosecutor’s office of the Kiev region terminated the pre-judicial investigation in criminal proceedings concerning members of an organised criminal group hiring generally minors for illegal liver transplants. 3 members of the organised criminal group feature in the case.

As a reminder, since 2018 in Ukraine the transplantation of kidneys after the death of the donor who isn’t the patient’s relative will be allowed, which will lay the foundations for mass kidney transplantation operations. This was stated the other day by the Acting Minister of Healthcare Ulana Suprun. According to the figures of the Ministry of Healthcare, about 2000 people per year need a kidney transplant. Lawyers and human rights activists are afraid that in Ukraine a “green light” to such donorship will open the way for corruption and even murders for the sake of obtaining organs for transplantation.

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