Phuket Opinion: Being negative can positively save lives
Pornthip Rattajak, 35, is now the acting director at the Phuket Regional Blood Center. She graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Medical Technology from Mahidol University. She first started her work in the field as medical laboratory technician at the National Blood Center of the Thai Red Cross Society in Bangkok before joining the Phuket Regional Blood Center in August 2009 (click here for map). Here she speaks with the Phuket Gazette.
PHUKET: Sometimes our bank does not have adequate stores of Rhesus Negative (Rh-) blood when it is urgently needed. Rh- blood is rare among Thais; only 0.03 per cent have it, so we mostly need it for foreign tourists who have accidents while visiting Phuket. People with rare blood types, like Rh- blood, need to get involved and help us save lives.
We established the Rh- Club of Phuket. The club members are Thais and foreigners who have Rh- blood. The club members actively support the “Donate Blood Public Relations Campaign” and every three months arrange a donation session, often bringing along non-club members. In addition to this, they are able to make emergency donations when it is necessary.
Many of the Rh- Club members first registered with us at the Immigration office in Phuket Town. We have a presence at the Immigration office and our officers invite foreigners visiting the office to register as blood donors. They explain to them how important their blood is to the Phuket Blood Bank. If they register, we can contact them directly whenever we urgently need Rh- blood.
Some people don’t know they have Rh- blood. They only find out when they come to donate blood at one of our mobile units. When we identify someone with Rh- blood, we tell them that their blood is rare and always in demand. We tell them that we would be very glad for them to join the Rh- Club, or at least provide their contact details, so that we can reach them whenever we need their blood type.
Although we receive excellent cooperation from foreigners in Phuket, the demand for Rh- blood is so high that we aren’t able to keep much in the bank. There are many foreigners in Phuket and when one of them is involved in a serious accident they usually need around five units of blood.
We also get requests from hospitals in other provinces for Rh- blood. They know we have a lot of foreigners here and therefore a better supply than most for rare blood types. Usually, there is just enough Rh- in the bank to be able to help them.
Since our Phuket blood center was set up, we have always had great support from Phuket residents. We do not have to request blood from Bangkok; I consider this our greatest success.
On average, our blood center receives about 2,000 units [900 liters] of blood every month. That’s enough to supply the monthly requirement for blood in the six Andaman coastal provinces, which is about 1,500 to 1,800 units.
I find the idea that foreigners could donate blood instead of making visa runs interesting. I really appreciate anything that encourages people to donate blood. However, potential
donors have to be screened, as not everyone is allowed to make donations. What would the Immigration office do for those not meeting blood-donor standards? I do not know, but if there is a practical solution, that would be great.
I would like to invite people to come and donate blood. You will feel genuine gratitude and appreciation. You may even switch to a healthier lifestyle, just because of the responsibility of being a donor.
Phuket Regional Blood Center contact details are: 38/193 Rattanakosin 200 Years Road, Taladnua, Muang, Phuket 83000, email : email@example.com or telephone 076-251178.
— Orawin Narabal
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