Bulgaria Blood for Sale

May 23, 2011 - 4:57 AM
In this April 26, 2011 photo blood "traders", people, often from the Gypsy minority who offer a paid blood donor service, wait near the National Center for Hematology and Transfusion in Sofia. It's a grim reality for patients and families in Bulgaria, a struggling EU nation where donors are troublingly scarce, hospitals are strapped for funds and blood traders _ mainly Gypsy, or Roma, men _ are thriving. Trading in blood and blood products is illegal in Bulgaria, punishable by a fine of up to euro5,000 ($7,100). But lawyers say it's difficult to prove an illegal blood transaction because that requires an official complaint lodged by the person who pays the donor _ and families are so desperate they consider the black market blood donors lifesavers. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)