Rh-Negative blood reserves in Thailand are alarmingly low, with only 0.3% of the Thai population having this blood type, compared to around 15% of Westerners.
A panel of experts was tabling the issue during a Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) discussion titled “Death without Donors: Rh-Negative Blood Rarity in Thailand” on February 22.
Dr. Issarang Nuchprayoon, adviser to the Thai Red Cross National Blood Center, urged the international community in Thailand to donate blood, as the scarcity of Rh-Negative blood could cause delays in providing assistance to Western tourists in emergencies requiring blood transfusions. He emphasized the need for westerners with this blood type to donate, as Rh-Negative blood from Thai donors alone would not be enough to support the needs of foreign visitors.
Dr. Issarang also suggested that all material used to recruit blood donors, which is published in Thai and only communicated to Thai people, shoud also be revised to extend its reach to donors and agencies running similar campaigns in other parts of the world.
Emphasizing the criticality of increasing Rh-Negative blood reserves and augmenting the reserves of blood banks as a crucial measure towards preserving more human lives, Michael Landess, a former registered nurse at an intensive care unit, said Thailand must boost the number of eligible candidates for blood donation. He noted that one solution is for the Thai government to end the long-standing deferral of vCJD (mad cow disease) testing for donors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and France, which has been a barrier to foreign participation.
Blood transfusions are indispensable in medical emergencies and life-threatening situations, such as surgeries, organ transplants, and cancer and blood disorders treatments. Adequate availability of safe and compatible blood products is a fundamental prerequisite for saving lives and enhancing health outcomes.