People come in all different shapes, sizes and blood types. The vast majority of blood types fall into one of the major ABO groups. However, for a small percentage of the population, finding someone else with the same blood type can be as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.
Red blood cells carry markers called antigens on their surface that determine one’s blood type. There are more than 600 known antigens besides A and B. Certain blood types are unique to specific racial and ethnic groups. Therefore it is essential that the donor diversity match the patient diversity.
Rare blood types like U-negative and Duffy-negative are unique to the African-American community. This means that Sickle cell patients with these blood types must rely on donors with matching blood types in the African-American community.
When blood is phenotypically matched (i.e., close blood type match), patients are at a lower risk of developing complications from transfusion therapy. For this reason, it is extremely important to increase the number of available blood donors from all ethnic groups.
*Some Rare Blood Types by Ethnic Group
Ethnic Group Rare Blood Type
African-American U-, Fy(a-b-)
Native American, Alaskan Native RzRz
Pacific Island, Asian Jk (a-b-)
East European/Russian Jews Dr(a-)
Importance of Type O
Different ethnic and racial groups also have different frequency of the main blood types in their populations. For example, about 45 percent of Caucasians are type O, but 51 percent of African-Americans and 57 percent of Hispanics are type O.
Type O is routinely in short supply and in high demand by hospitals – both because it is the most common blood type and because type O negative blood, in particular, is the universal type needed for emergency transfusions.
Diverse populations, therefore, play a critical role in meeting the constant need for blood.
Please note: The Blood Bank asks that you please postpone your donation for 28 days if you’ve been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. Healthy blood donors are encouraged to donate every 8 weeks.
Also, if you successfully give blood or platelets at a participating Ochsner blood bank, you will receive a free COVID-19 antibody test.
The antibody test can determine if a person’s immune system has created antibodies in response to COVID-19. Presence of the antibody indicates the individual has been infected with COVID-19, but this test does not prove immunity from future infection.
*Information and chart are provided courtesy of the American Red Cross.
Have You Saved A Life Recently? All healthy adults are encouraged to become blood donors. Learn more.