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Blood Donations - Transfusions

Blood Donations - Transfus...

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 or if you are considering being a blood donor.

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 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 in western countries. Those individuals should register with one of the local rhesus negative groups or with the expat group Blood Connections on Google Groups for example.

Korean Red Cross handles almost all of South Korea's official blood supply and are involved in educating the public in order to recruit voluntary non-remunerated blood donors. Information is available on their website in English. For information on the agency's blood service, you can email them at or call 033-811-0087 (English) or 033-811-0072 (Korean). 

1. A  foreign donor must have lived in Korea for more than a year (if the person has been out-of-country more 90 days during a one-year period, the eligibility date would be 12 months after the last entry date).
2. A foreign national cannot give blood if s/he has travelled outside Korea within the last month.
3.  A valid ID is required. Some hospitals/blood clinics require a valid Alien Registration Card, which has prevented diplomats and military personnel from donating on occasion; although SOFA and diplomatic identifications are more often accepted these days. In some cases, especially if the donor is giving blood for a particular foreign national, the ID requirements can be more flexible and passports, Korean driver's licenses, etc. may be accepted.
4. Donors undergo an interview, which is conducted in Korean. If the donor does not speak Korean, an qualified interpreter is needed. Family members, co-workers, friends, etc. are not considered 'qualified' interpreters. The rationale is that a 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.
5. Each blood center has a Coomittee for Blood Safety Management and it is this committee that will make decisions regarding acceptance of a particular idea, qualifications of an interpreter, etc.
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. Click here re  Rh- challenges in Korea.

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.
3. Regular public education campaigns occur in order to encourage volunteer non-remunerated blood donations.

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]  in [City]. His/Her bloods type is [Blood Type]. [Recipient's Name] needs platelet transfusions from people with [Blood Type]. My blood type is  [X]. I want to donate platelets for this person. 
Korean Version:
[Recipent's Name] 이 [City] 에 있는 [Hospital Name - Department] 병원에 입원해 있습니다. 이 사람의 혈핵은 [Blood type] 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

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Last Updated on 2022-02-25

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