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Rare blood call: Polynesian, Māori and Filipino donors needed

Tuesday 3rd Mar 2020

Lifeblood is calling on people of Polynesian, New Zealand Māori or Filipino background to donate blood in the hope a rare blood type can be found to help several patients in need of a specific match. 

“We currently have several patients of Polynesian heritage, who have a rare blood type that is only found in those with similar ethnic backgrounds,” Dr James Daly, Lifeblood Medical Director said. 

“These patients are either pregnant and their baby may require a blood transfusion when they’re born, or they have a medical condition that means they may require multiple blood transfusions over the next few months.”

Blood types consist not only of the commonly recognised groups such as A, B and O, but also include more than 300 other variants. 

Dr Daly said: “We have currently exhausted our supplies of this rare blood type, and because the existing donors with this rare blood type are unable to donate again for almost 12 weeks, we need others to come forward. 

“We expect to find this rare blood type in around one in every 100 blood donors tested who have this background – which is why we need as many people of Polynesian, New Zealand Māori or Filipino background as possible to help.” 

In order to help donors must:

  • Be of Polynesian, New Zealand Māori or Filipino background
  • Have 'O' or 'A' blood type so we can check if they have the additional rare factor required for this rare blood type. If a donor does not know their blood type, they should still donate to see if they are a possible match.

IMPORTANT: Donors must call 13 14 95 and mention ‘Rare Donor Drive’. 

Dr Daly said: “People from diverse backgrounds tend to be underrepresented in donor populations, which is why we need to make a call-out for donors of specific backgrounds like this from time to time. In addition, blood has a shelf-life of only 42 days so we will need people with this rare blood type to donate throughout the year to maintain supplies for these patients.”

As Australia’s population grows and continues to diversify, Lifeblood has a need for donors specifically from Polynesia, Melanesia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, India, Pakistan and Iran. 

Please note: This call for rare blood donors is a normal response action and is not related to novel coronavirus.

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