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Risky Bodies in the Plasma Bioeconomy: A Feminist Analysis

Kent, Julie; Farrell, Anne-Maree

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Julie Kent
Professor in Sociology of Health Techngy

Anne-Maree Farrell


© The Author(s) 2015 In 2003 the UK National Blood Service introduced a policy of ‘male donor preference’ which involved women’s plasma being discarded following blood collection. The policy was based on the view that data relating to the incidence of Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury (TRALI) was linked to transfusion with women’s plasma. While appearing to treat female donors as equal to male donors, exclusion criteria operate after donation at the stage of processing blood, thus perpetuating myths of universality even though only certain ‘extractions’ from women are retained for use in transfusion. Many women in the UK receive a plasma-derived product called Anti-D immunoglobulin which is manufactured from pooled male plasma. This article examines ways in which gender has significance for understanding blood relations, and how the blood economy is gendered. In our study of relations between blood donors and recipients, we explore how gendered bodies are produced through the discursive and material practices within blood services. We examine both how donation policies and the manufacturing and use of blood products produces gendered blood relations.


Kent, J., & Farrell, A. (2015). Risky Bodies in the Plasma Bioeconomy: A Feminist Analysis. Body and Society, 21(1), 29-57.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 14, 2014
Publication Date Mar 1, 2015
Deposit Date Mar 17, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jul 7, 2016
Journal Body and Society
Print ISSN 1357-034X
Electronic ISSN 1460-3632
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 1
Pages 29-57
Keywords Anti-D Ig, biopolitics, biotechnology, blood, ethics, pregnancy
Public URL
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