Photo: Thai Red Cross Society / Courtesy

BANGKOK — The Thai Red Cross is facing a severe shortage of blood supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, the organization said Wednesday.

The Thai Red Cross Public Relations department says they only have 44 percent of the amount of blood needed to treat patients nationwide. The shortage came after many potential donors were driven away by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“The entire country is lacking blood. Not only are people staying at home, many are afraid they will get infected from coming to donate blood,” a Thai Red Cross spokeswoman said Wednesday. 

The Thai Red Cross Society’s headquarters at the National Blood Center on Henri Dunant Road in Bangkok said it only gets 1,500 units of blood per day during the outbreak, as opposed to their normal supply of 2,500 units daily – a 60 percent drop. 

To adequately staff hospitals nationwide, the Thai Red Cross needs 5,400 units of blood daily, but the organization has only been getting 2,400 units a day, according to Dootchai Chaiwanichsiri, director of the National Blood Center said.

The Thai Red Cross is also unable to transport blood across provincial borders, and provinces that close borders, such as Phuket, are also fast running out of blood.

The Thai Red Cross public relations spokeswoman said that blood donation centers are regularly cleaned “to the highest standards” and social distancing and temperature checks are enforced. 

In a video posted on Friday, deputy director of the National Blood Center Pawinee Kuptawintu said that due to the blood shortage, hospitals nationwide are forced to delay surgeries, reserving blood supplies for patients with massive bleeding due to childbirth or accidents, as well as anemia, cancer, and thalassemia treatments. 

Queues at the National Blood Center in Bangkok. Photo: Thai Red Cross Society / Courtesy

How to Donate:

The main place to donate is at the Thai Red Cross Society’s National Blood Center on Henri Dunant Road, which is open from 7:30am to 7:30pm on weekdays, and 8:30am to 3:30pm on weekends and holidays. The closest MRT station is Sam Yan, or BTS Siam.

The Red Cross Station 11 at Wiset Niyom in Bang Khae area is open for blood donations from 8:30am to 7:30pm on weekdays, and 8:30am to 3:30pm on weekends and holidays. The donation center is walkable from MRT Phasi Charoen.

Other venues include Ramathibodi Hospital, Somdech Phra Pinklao Hospital,  Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital, Vajira Hospital, Police General Hospital, and the Royal Thai Army Medical Department. 

The Red Cross also set up donation stations at The Mall branches at Bang Kapi, Ngam Wong Wan, and Bang Khae.

Normally, mobile units in Bangkok are staffed by 300 people but now only 50 people are working the mobile blood donation spots. The Thai Red Cross will send mobile units to condos and other residential areas to collect blood from at least 50 people. Contact them for an appointment at 02-256-4300.

Blood donations outside of Bangkok are also sorely needed, as provincial travel lockdowns have cut off blood supplies between many areas. For instance, medical units in Korat are currently unable to get blood from their usual donation spots in other Isaan provinces such as Buriram and Surin. 

Those interested in donating should contact the local Thai Red Cross office in Lopburi, Chonburi, Ratchaburi, Korat, Khon Kaen, Ubol Ratchathani, Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok, Chiang Mai, Thung Song in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, Phuket, Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan, and the main public hospital in each province. 

Foreigners should bring their passport as an ID. 

Those who recovered from COVID-19 can only donate four weeks after recovery. People with any risk of COVID-19, such as contact with the infected or travelling back from an at-risk country should refrain from donating blood until getting tested. 

For more information, contact the Thai Red Cross Society at 02-256-4300.

Queues at the National Blood Center in Bangkok. Photo: Thai Red Cross Society / Courtesy