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Expats' donations 'help ease blood shortage

By Shan Juan and Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

08:25, June 13, 2012

Surge assists Red Cross in meeting demand for rare Rh negative type

People from the expatriate community in Beijing have donated blood more than 500 times since 1998, and have helped ease the shortage of Rh negative blood, according to the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center.

This is the first time health authorities in China have released figures on blood donations from foreign donors.

Currently, about 200,000 expats live in Beijing, according to the latest population census.

Nationwide data for blood donations by expats was not available, according to the Ministry of Health.

"There have been 526 blood donations from expatriates in Beijing, according to the database in the center," Liu Jiang, head of the Beijing blood center, told a news conference on Tuesday to mark World Blood Donor Day, which falls on June 14 each year.

"The big surge in the number of foreign donors has mainly taken place since 2008, when we put great efforts into guaranteeing the reservation of rare types of blood, particularly the Rh negative, for the Beijing Olympics," he told China Daily.

Only three out of every 1,000 Chinese people are born with Rh negative blood, but in much of Europe, negative blood types are seen in about 15 percent of the population, according to medical research.

Sun Fei, who heads the laboratory center of Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics, told China Daily that their hospital has helped the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center organize blood donations among expats since 2002.

So far, expats have donated 1,500 bags of blood (200 ml per bag) via blood drives, and many of the donations were Rh negative, she said.

"Most of them are quite willing to pull up their sleeves, and whenever we issued an emergency call for certain types of blood, particularly Rh negative, many responded at once," she said.

To help ensure the supply of Rh negative blood for clinical use, the hospital even organized a volunteer group of several hundred expats, mostly Westerners.

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