Posted on Jan 15, 2016 by Travis Jones
In the past few weeks you may have seen a post going around social media about a girl in Thailand who was in a serious road accident and needed blood. Normally this would not be a major issue that makes news and social media feeds around the world, but this time it was a bit different: The blood needed was of a specific type that is historically in short supply in Asia: Rh negative.
About blood in Singapore
According to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) in Singapore, there is a near constant demand for blood in the city. This blood is used in a wide variety of situations including during medical emergencies or surgeries, cancer treatment )especially for lymphomas or leukemia), treatment for severe anaemia, and many more situations.
As the HSA estimates, "Every hour of the day, 15 units of blood are used in Singapore. More than 100,000 units of blood are needed to meet the transfusion needs of patients every year, equivalent to more than 350 units of blood a day." With this demand set to grow due to a growing and aging population, you can expect this demand to rise in the near future.
Why is Rh negative in such demand?
While there is always a strong demand for blood in Singapore, there is one type that seems to be perpetually in low supply: Rh negative. The reason for this is because negative blood is not common amongst Asian populations. Take, for example, the Red Cross's Blood Types in the US page, which highlights the percentage of blood types in the US based on ethnicity.
Of all the negative blood types (AB-, O-, A-, and B-), those of Asian descent have the lowest percentage. These figures highlight the fact that it is not a common blood type in Asia. This in turn means that hospitals and medical facilities will not usually keep a large stock of Rh negative blood. We actually wrote about this in an article last year, click here to learn more about Rh negative blood in Singapore.
The issue, therefore, is that should there be a spike in need for this type of blood, there will be a shortage. This is what happened in Thailand the other week with the British girl who was in the accident. The hospital simply did not have enough of her blood type on hand and her health was put in serious jeopardy. While this happened in Thailand, it could very easily happen here in Singapore. If you are an expat there is a higher chance that you or someone you know has Rh negative blood. Combine this with the often limited supply and it would be a good idea to donate if you have Rh negative blood.
How can I donate?
One of the best ways you can donate is via the various blood banks run by the HSA. There are currently four major locations with various mobile clinics operated by the Authority. Visit their website for more information on the locations and operating hours.
It is worth noting here that in order to ensure blood is clean - as in it will not cause issues with patients in need - there are strict criteria in place that you need to meet before you can donate. The HSA website linked to above has all the information, so be sure to view it before you visit a donation site.
As always, if you do require medical care which results in a blood transfusion, it will not be overly cheap for expats in the city who don't have access to universal medical coverage. This means that a robust health insurance plan such as an international health insurance plan can be a big help. Contact the experts at Pacific Prime Singapore to learn more about your health insurance options today.