Rh-Negative blood reserves in Thailand are extremely low, academics told a panel discussion on Wednesday evening, during which they encouraged the international community in Thailand to donate blood.
"The Thai population has a very low prevalence of the Rh-Negative blood type," said Dr Issarang Nuchprayoon, adviser to the Thai Red Cross National Blood Centre, citing a report suggesting that only 0.3% of Thais have this blood type, compared to around 15% of Westerners.
"This disparity in numbers may provide challenges for Western tourists with this blood type, as in emergencies that require blood transfusions, a scarcity in Thailand's Rh-Negative type blood pool may cause assistance to be delayed."
With Rh-Negative blood from Thai donors alone not being enough to support the needs of foreign visitors, he encouraged the Western community with this blood type to donate.
Dr Issarang was speaking at a Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) discussion titled "Death without Donors: Rh-Negative Blood Rarity in Thailand" on Wednesday.
Michael Landess, a former registered nurse at an intensive care unit, said to increase Rh-Negative blood reserves in Thailand, the country must boost the number of eligible candidates for blood donation.
One solution is for the Thai government to eliminate the long-standing deferral of vCJD (mad cow disease) testing for donors from the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, which has acted as an impediment to foreign participation, he said.
Mr Landess added that increasing blood bank reserves is vital and the ultimate solution to saving more lives.
"Right now, we can only help those in the 'intermediate trauma' stage who have injuries but can still live for a while without a blood transfusion," he explained.
"It could take one or two days from the time an injury occurs to the time blood is sourced from donors and transported to a hospital," he said.
Dr Issarang said all material used to recruit blood donors is currently published in Thai and only communicated to Thai people.
"But now we see an opportunity to get more blood from Western visitors," he said.