Rh-Negative blood reserves are frighteningly low in Thailand, with only 0.3% of the Thai population possessing this blood type, compared to around 15% of Westerners. On February 22, a panel of specialists discussed “Death without Donors: Rh-Negative Blood Rare in Thailand” at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT).
Dr. Issarang Nuchprayoon, consultant to the Thai Red Cross National Blood Center, asked the foreign community in Thailand to give blood, warning that a lack of Rh-Negative blood might delay help to Western visitors in circumstances needing blood transfusions. He underlined the need of foreigners with this blood type donating, as Rh-Negative blood from Thai donors would not be sufficient to meet the demands of international tourists.
Dr. Issarang also advised that all recruitment materials, which are now published in Thai and solely addressed to Thai people, be changed in order to attract donors and organizations operating similar campaigns in other regions of the world.
Michael Landess, a former registered nurse at an intensive care unit, said Thailand must increase the number of eligible candidates for blood donation, emphasizing the importance of increasing Rh-Negative blood reserves and augmenting blood bank reserves as a critical measure towards preserving more human lives. He suggested that the Thai government change the long-standing practice of deferring vCJD (mad cow disease) testing for donors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and France, which has been a barrier to overseas involvement.
Transfusions of blood are essential in medical emergencies and life-threatening circumstances such as surgeries, organ transplants, and cancer and blood condition therapies. Sufficient supply of safe and suitable blood products is a critical need for saving lives and improving health outcomes.