Low reserves of Rh negative blood raise concerns for foreigners in Thailand

Low reserves of Rh negative blood are raising concerns for foreigners in Thailand.

While only 0.3% of the Thai population has Rh negative blood, around 15% of the UK and European population has the blood type. This shortage has resulted in concerning shortages of Rh negative blood in blood banks across Southeast Asia.

Visitors to the region who have had accidents or required surgery have found themselves in life-threatening situations because of the lack of available Rh negative blood supplies. In some cases, it has taken up to two weeks to find enough donors to supply the required amount of blood.

One French national, ‘Lucca,’ recounted his horrific experience to UK Daily Telegraph. Last summer, Lucca was rushed to a hospital due to internal bleeding while recovering from surgery to remove a stomach ulcer. Bangkok doctors did not have enough O- blood supplies to replace the amount of blood Lucca was losing. Fortunately, over the course of two weeks, Lucca’s friends and family were able to gather enough blood donations for him through online campaigning and pleading with potential donors.

One of Lucca’s donors, Nancy Rower, said that at the time, French, Irish, and English nationals were banned from donating due to concerns that their blood may still contain traces of mad cow disease following various outbreaks between 1980 and 2001. This posed a challenge since most of Lucca’s connections were French. Thailand changed this policy last year.

Last month, medical professionals and academics at a panel discussion at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) encouraged the international community to donate blood.

Some advocacy groups and Facebook communities are working to help match patients with donors. The ‘Thailand RH- Blood Donation’ Facebook group helps find potential donors for patients in need.

Tourists planning to travel to Southeast Asia are recommended to know their blood type in advance. If an accident or health issue arises where you need blood, reach out to the expat community immediately, Rower urged people. She said this would give people the best chance of securing the blood they need.

ExpatsThailand News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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