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Health officials call for rare blood donors
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Health officials in Beijing are appealing for donors of the Rhesus negative blood type in a bid to boost supplies ahead of next year's Olympics.

With more than 500,000 foreign visitors expected to descend on the city during the Games, officials said on Wednesday they want to ensure they have sufficient stocks of the blood, which is extremely rare in China, occurring in just three out of every 1,000 people.

In contrast, about 15 percent of Westerners are Rhesus negative.

Deng Xiaohong, deputy director of the Beijing health bureau, said: "We need to reserve 800 units (of 200 ml each) of Rh negative blood for the 2008 Olympic Games. But so far, we have only about half that."

The bureau and the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center have been updating their blood databases in an effort to identify suitable donors, as well as trying to extend the shelf life of their existing stocks using better storage methods.

They have also strengthened links with other provinces to help source additional supplies.

TV personality Yang Lan, who is also the face of the national blood donation campaign, said: "No matter what their blood type, every healthy citizen of the right age, should offer to help when the country is in need."

Speaking on Wednesday at a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center, Yang said: "Let's all join the free blood donation campaign and dedicate it to the Olympics."

In the 1990s, the amount of blood collected in Beijing was sufficient to meet only two-thirds of the demand. Additional supplies had to be sourced from other provinces.

But since the introduction of the Blood Donation Law in 1998, which strengthened the management of blood collecting and supply, and banned quotas for blood donations from government bodies, the number of donors in the capital has steadily increased.

In 2006, more than 435,000 people gave blood in Beijing, up from just 1,800 in 1998.

In 2005, the city was self-sufficient for blood, all of which came from donations.

(China Daily November 9, 2007)

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