Blood Donation Situation in Japan Heart Cambodia – New Initiatives During the Pandemic

Hello, this is Horikawa, the PR manager for Japan Heart Cambodia.
I want to introduce you to Japan Heart Cambodia’s initiative, “Japan Heart Blood Donation Friends.”

Japan Heart’s mission is to “deliver medical care to places where it cannot reach.” Japan Heart Cambodia provides treatments for patients who cannot visit hospitals due to financial barriers and for pediatric cancer patients which are considered difficult to treat in Cambodia.

One of the problem’s we face is that the habit of blood donation is not widespread in Cambodia, and the country is facing a chronic shortage of blood products due to the hesitance to donate.
For this reason, Cambodia has a unique system where for a patient to get blood for a transfusion, relatives and friends have to donate an equal amount of blood to the transfusion center to receive a supply in-kind.
For example, if you need three blood packs, you can bring three cooperative donors to the blood transfusion center who donate a pack each, in exchange for the three packs of blood-type that you need.

Since there are no blood transfusion centers around our hospital, we have to travel an hour and a half away to Phnom Penh to get blood for transfusions.
In addition, many pediatric cancer patients require multiple transfusions during their treatment, so it can be arduous for families to come up with enough donors.

In the past, to solve this problem, our staff have volunteered to donate to make up the difference.

Also, twice a year we hold a blood drive at the hospital.
On these occasions, we have been able to make up our needed blood supplies. At the last event, over 50 people showed up!

The warmth of the Cambodian people felt during the blood donation campaign

We originally planned to hold a blood donation event in June, but since the end of February, the spread of COVID-19 has been accelerating in Cambodia and we had no choice but to abandon the event.

On the other hand, we have more than 30 pediatric cancer patients currently hospitalized at Japan Heart Children’s Medical Center. Making things worse, the pandemic has made it even more difficult to find willing blood donors.

To fight back against the barriers to medical care, we have launched Japan Heart Cambodia’s first attempt at recruiting blood donors.
We have started a group called Japan Heart Blood Donation Friends where willing participants can sign up to donate blood.

Blood Donation Friends is a system where people can register as blood donors in advance for our organization.
When a patient needs a blood transfusion, we call for blood donations from people on the list of registered donors. The program is open to everyone living in Phnom Penh.

On Saturday, June 26th, three members of Japan Heart Blood Donation Friends donated blood at the blood transfusion center, which we used to treat a pediatric cancer patient named Vesna.

Vesna’s mother told us “I was very happy now because there was no one to donate blood and we were in big trouble. Thank you very much.”

As the social situation changes, we sometimes face difficulties, but each time we are helped by many people and we are able to carry on our activities.
Japan Heart Cambodia will continue to make every effort to provide medical care to many people, including pediatric cancer patients.

Japan Heart Cambodia Public Relations Manager Horikawa

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