Phuket blood shortage plea: Paradise in peril seeks tourists’ rescue

Photo: Phuket RBC

The tropical island paradise of Phuket, usually a favourite destination for tourists and expats alike, now urgently calls for their help. As the high tourism season kicks off, the island is faced with a critical blood shortage, particularly for the RH-Negative type, prompting an island-wide blood donation drive throughout this month.

The plea for blood donations was made public by Rescue Team Volunteers Phuket, the only rescue service on the island which includes a foreigner within its ranks. Vincent Modell, a volunteer and instructor from the UK, who himself is a regular blood donor, is behind the appeal.

The increase in international flights and tourists, he explained, also means increased numbers of patients in need of blood transfusions, resulting from the expected rise in accidents and life-threatening conditions.

The urgent need for RH-Negative blood donors stems from the rarity of this blood type among the Thai population. Academic research indicates that just about 0.3% of Thais possess this blood type, in stark contrast to the 15% of Westerners who do, the Rescue Team Volunteers Phuket revealed.

“Thais can’t provide enough RH-Negative blood to the blood banks because they don’t have it. Only other foreigners can help when a tourist needs saving, and preparations must be made in advance.”

The call to action has resonated with various members of Phuket’s diverse community of blood donors, including both Thais and foreigners. However, given that blood can be donated only once every three months, the current pool of donors is insufficient to meet the increasing demand in Phuket’s hospitals, especially as the high season approaches and road accidents and other emergencies become more frequent.

Blood shortage

Data from the national road safety agency, ThaiRSC, shows a worrying trend – between January 1 and November 5 this year, there has been an increase of 40% in road deaths and 25% in hospitalisations compared to the same period last year, said Ael Sirima, a respected member of Phuket’s blood donor community.

“Please, if you can, come and donate blood now. Doctors will need it urgently very soon. All blood groups are welcome, but RH-Negative donors are in the highest demand.”

To make the donation process smooth and accessible, the Phuket Regional Center (Phuket RBC), operated by the Phuket chapter of the Thai Red Cross Society, is setting up mobile donation stations across the island. Vachira Phuket Hospital is also facilitating a separate outreach program in November, establishing temporary donation centres in various parts of Phuket.

This is a time when the foreign community in Phuket can make a real, life-saving difference. With the high season of tourism commencing, the need for blood, particularly of the RH-Negative type, is expected to rise sharply.

It’s hoped that the urgent calls for donations will be met with a generous response, ensuring that the island is well-equipped to handle any emergencies that may arise during the bustling tourist season, reported Phuket News.

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Phuket News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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