Authorities in Saudi Arabia are investigating a number of private hospitals over claims they are selling blood at excessive rates to patients requiring transfusions, it was reported.
According to Al Watan newspaper, some hospitals are selling rare blood types to patients for as much as SR1,800 ($480) per pint. It did not name the hospitals or say where in the Gulf country they were located.
The Ministry of Health has begun a study as part of preparations to fix the prices of blood used for transfusions, to prevent it being marked up for profit, the paper said.
Al Watan said that illicit trading in human blood often increases immediately following Ramadan, as the number of donations during the Islamic holy month plunges.
Saudi Arabia’s hospital system has been under fire in recent months, with one newspaper report claiming that medical mistakes by staff at one facility has caused the deaths of 223 patients in a two-year period.
Earlier this year, a 14-year old girl was sickle cell anaemia was mistakenly infected with HIV during a botched blood transfusion at a government hospital. She was later said to be seeking SR50m in compensation.