In 1970, English social theorist Richard Titmuss upended the blood-banking system with his book The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy in which he explained the fundamental differences in how British people and Americans approached the blood used for transfusions. In the British system, all blood is classified as a gift. In the American system, blood is both donated and purchased (or sold). Titmuss goes on to say this profit motive compromises the supply - causing shortages, waste and increased health risks due compromised product (blood sold by desperate people and bought by unscrupulous profit-maximizers).
There has been a fair amount of research that questions the nuances of this work, but the basic questions remain. Lewis Hyde explains, “Medical sociologists have been drawn to questions of gift exchanges because they have come to understand that the ethics of gift-giving make it a form of commerce appropriate to the transfer of what we might call, ‘sacred properties,’ in this case parts of the human body.”