The chief of PMI’s blood supply department, Dian Winarti, told The Jakarta Post recently that her office in Central Jakarta had identified about 600 residents who had Rh-negative blood, but only 250 of them had registered as donors.
She acknowledged that sourcing Rh-negative blood was difficult not only in Jakarta but throughout the country because the proportion of people with the blood type was only 2 percent of the population, far lower than the average 15 percent of the world’s total population.
“We have yet to find scientific research that explains why the number of Rh-negative people is so small, not only in the world but also in Indonesia,” she said.
She said of the demand for 60 bags of Rh-negative blood in May, for example, the PMI Jakarta branch could provide only 52 bags.
In March, moreover, demand for Rh-negative blood reached 136 bags, of which the PMI could provide only 121.
The branch’s coordinator of Rh-negative blood supply, Ninit Dewi Rahayu, told the Post that because Jakarta had only a few donors, her office had limited stock.
“Whenever a hospital calls us for Rh-negative blood, we are busy calling people registered with us to ask for a donation,” she said, adding that by then a patient was in a dire need of blood.
She complained that when her office called the listed donors, they were mostly difficult to reach.
Even if they can be reached, they often reject donating blood for a variety of reasons.
“Actually, if they [the listed Rh-negative donors] are busy and have no time to come to the PMI office, we are ready to visit their homes or offices,” she said. “But they always have a reason to say no.”
According to PMI Jakarta data, the number of people who donated Rh-negative blood in May was only 66, consisting of 61 Indonesians, three Indians, one American and one Iranian. The number was lower than the 83 people in April, 97 in March, 72 in February and 70 in January.
“The number of expatriates with Rh-negative who donate blood in Jakarta is low. Our donors are mostly Indonesians,” Ninit said
The chairperson of the Indonesia Rhesus Negative Community, Lici Murniati, acknowledged that some people with Rh-negative blood were reluctant to donate blood due to work obligations or an adversity to driving through traffic congestion in the city.
“It is understandable that Rh-negative people are reluctant to donate blood because traffic congestion in Jakarta is a very serious problem,” she said, adding that members of the community numbered about 1,200 people nationwide.
She said that she always encouraged people with Rh-negative blood to make time to donate blood because the blood was rare in the city.
Besides encouraging people with Rh-negative blood to donate, she said she often explained the implications of having Rh-negative blood.
She said that her community kept informing the public about the rare blood through various media outlets, including social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and seminars.
“Our work has shown significant progress. People are beginning to understand that Rh-negative blood is not a curse,” she said. (alz)
(The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, June 19 2014, 9:09 AM)