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Red Cross Policies Sensible

Shantonu Sen '02 closes his column ["Bias at the Red Cross Blood Drive," Oct. 27] with a call for a "well thought and more equitable donation policy." If he thinks that the Red Cross gave less thought to their policies than he to his essay, he is mistaken.

He complains that the policy is biased. He is right. But the Red Cross has another consideration besides equity: human life. If the Red Cross is too restrictive when getting donations, people die of blood shortages. If it is too inclusive, people die of tainted blood. Furthermore, testing blood for HIV antibodies isn't a foolproof procedure. To add to all this, his idea of using a more elaborate questionnaire also has a fatal flaw: if the questionnaire is too long and too embarrassing, fewer people will even show up to these drives.

With all these problems to balance, the Red Cross has chosen its current policy. If Sen finds the policy contrary to his sensibilities, he should remember that the Red Cross's blood donation policy is based on considerations of risk to human life, and those considerations take precedence.

Omri Schwarz G