While important to anyone who may need a blood transfusion (whole blood or platelets) in Korea, this page is especially important if you are Rhesus negative.
GENERAL INFORMATION - KOREA
In Korea, relatives and friends of a patient are responsible for finding blood donors. This can be an added challenge for expats, especially as there are a number of restrictions regarding blood donation by foreign nationals.
While a number of countries restrict who can donate to reduce the possibility of transference of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases including vCJD (mad cow disease). The process/need for blood can become life threatening for Rhesus negative (O-, A-, B-, AB-) blood types, which are much rarer in Asia than Western countries. Those individuals should register with one of the local rhesus negative groups or with the expat group Blood Connections on Google Groups and Facebook.
The main Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Seoul is next to the Korean National Red Cross Headquarters on Namsan across from the Sejong Hotel and heading up to the cable car (Myeong-dong Station, Line 4, Exit 1). The direct phone number is (02) 3705-8492. English-speaking personnel are not always available, but it is not necessary to make an appointment. There is a website (Korean only) that lists donation sites around the country.
The 1339 Emergency Medical Information Center may also be able to help. The Center has bilingual staff that speak Korean plus English, Japanese, or Chinese so they can interpret for you if you need help communicating with Korean medical staff while you are at a clinic or hospital. The staff at 1339 can also give medical advice over the phone and directly connect you with emergency services when necessary. So if you call and describe your symptoms, 1339 can let you know what kind of treatment you need, and, if it is deemed serious, immediately connect you with emergency services. Like the MRS, 1339 can also help you find clinics and hospitals in your area that can provide the treatment you need.
REQUIREMENTS FOR FOREIGN DONORS
1. Donors must have lived in Korea for more than a year.
2. Reliable ID card (according to English page on Korean Red Cross website . However, some hospitals/blood clinics apparently require a valid Alien Registration Card, which has prevented diplomats and military personnel from donating on occasion. (Have been told that if one persists, especially if the donation is for a specific foreign national, that the ARC requirement will be waived).
3. Currently, people who have lived in Europe and the UK may be refused as donors.
(K4E Note) Although this has not been confirmed by experience,, one would hope that this restriction could be waived if the recipient is from the UK or Europe or has resided there.
4. Following is a translation by Blood Connections of the Korea Red Cross Guidelines for Non-Korean Blood Donors
Thank you for your support, and for your interest in blood donation. Before donating, please carefully review the following guidelines for all non-Korean blood donors.
- I have lived in Korea for at least one year.
- I am able to communicate in Korean well enough to answer questionnaires and undergo an interview. If not, I will be accompanied by a Korean interpreter.
- I hold an acceptable ID card that verifies my Korean residence.
Thank you again for your valuable contribution
5. Note that friends and family members may not be acceptable as a Korean interpreter since it may be thought that the donor applicant might not be as truthful or forthcoming as necessary when answering some of the questions if the translation is being done by someone s/he knows.
6. The Red Cross is allegedly working on having English materials and translators available but still recommends coming with a Korean speaker if needed.
7. If you are Rh negative, you might consider going to the nearest Red Cross agency and going trough the process to be listed as a donor (physical check up, interview in Korean, etc.) so that when there is an emergency you will be able to give.
IF ACCEPTED AS A DONOR
1. The average donation time for whole blood is 20 minutes, plasma, 50 minutes and platelets, 90 minutes.
2. In addition to juice and cookies, volunteers in Korea sometimes receive free movie tickets and other gifts in conjunction with blood drives.
IF DONATING FOR A SPECIFIC PERSON
1. Provide as much information about the intended recipient as possible – must include person’s name and hospital including specific department if possible. (It's unlikely that anyone has time to do a thorough search to find that person if the information needed is incomplete). See English and Korean phrasing below.*
2. Find out if whole blood (avg. time 20 min.) or platelet donation (1 to 2 hours) is preferable. Whole blood donations are faster but cannot be repeated as frequently as platelet donations. A donor who has given whole blood must wait 2 months to give platelets. People undergoing chemotherapy, for example to treat leukemia, are more likely to need platelets. It can take 28 donors giving every two weeks to supply a person needing two units of platelets a day. The shelf life of platelets is five days compared to several months for whole blood so it is harder to import supplies. Donating platelets for patients undergoing chemotherapy in Korea can save lives.
3. It's helpful if you have a letter for the hospital or attending physician that gives the details as to where the blood/platelets are to go. In case you don't have such a letter, following is a form (English and Korean versions) that should help:
*English Version: [RECIPIENT'S NAME] has been hospitalized in [HOSPITAL NAME-DEPARTMENT] Hospital in [CITY]. His/Her bloods type is [BLOOD TYEP]. [RECIPIENT'S NAME] needs platelet transfusions from people with [BLOOD TYEP]. My blood type is [BLOOD TYEP]. I want to donate platelets for this person.
Korean version: [RECIPIENT'S NAME]이 [CITY]에 있는 [HOSPITAL NAME]병원에 입원해 있습니다. 이 사람의 혈핵은 [BLOOD TYEP]입니다. [RECIPIENT'S NAME]은 [BLOOD TYPE] 혈소판 수혈이 필요합니다. 저는 이 사람에게 혈소판 헌혈을 해주고 싶습니다.
Editor's Note: The information above is based on the information K4E has available at the time of writing. K4E would appreciate your feedback should you find out that our information is out-of-date or incomplete. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated on 2011-05-22
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