Rare Donors


Enhance international collaboration to enable provision of rare blood to patients

In general, the majority of the population has one of the ABO blood groups and is Rh positive or negative. There are >200 minor blood groups and >600 known antigens besides A, B and Rh. Because blood groups are distributed differently in different ethnic groups, finding a blood donor with the exact same blood type is a huge challenge. A rare blood donor phenotype occurs 1/1000 and includes high-frequency-antigen-negative and multiple-common-antigen-negative blood groups. Examples of rare blood types include Rhnull, Bombay (Oh) and Junior (Jr) a-. To prevent shortages of rare donor blood units, red cell donations can be frozen for future use. Therefore, it is of high importance to have an accurate international database of rare blood donors to ensure that patients who require lifesaving rare blood units are able to receive them.


The WP has international collaborations for the provision of rare blood and discusses the challenges (local/international) related to finding and providing rare blood. We are interested in education of, and educational material for, blood providers, donors and patients. Guidelines to standardize listing, shipping, testing and reimbursement for rare donors' blood are prepared and maintained. We are an important resource for information regarding rare donor blood issues. We collaborate with WHO's International Donor Panel (IRDP) through liaison with the International Blood Group Reference Laboratory (located in UK) to maintain a database of donors with rare blood types.

Our Chairperson is Christine Lomas-Francis.



We meet at the ISBT congresses, regional meetings may be held. Also, we develop various documents including:

  • Template for international reporting of incompatible transfusion outcomes when rare blood is lacking
  • International rare donor card

Moreover, we provide assistance in developing rare blood programs, stimulate regular e-mail discussions and set up educational programs.

Joining the WP

ISBT members, who have a particular interest in rare blood matters, demonstrated expertise in the subject and are currently actively involved in a rare blood program, are able to join this WP. Others are welcome as observers. The WP members will represent their own countries and are asked to include their rare donors in WHO's Rare Donor panel (IRDP).

Interested in joining the Rare Donors WP? Please email our Chairperson.




Some of the content is only accessible for ISBT-members.

To join us, click here.

Webinars and webcasts


The International Rare Donor Panel (IRDP)

The International Rare Donor Panel (IRDP) was conceived under a joint World Health Organisation (WHO) and ISBT initiative in 1965 to facilitate the rapid location and exchange of rare blood between countries. The panel currently contains details of rare donors from 27 contributing countries and also frozen unit inventories from frozen blood banks around the world. The compilation and maintenance of the IRDP is carried out by The International Blood Group Reference Laboratory (IBGRL) in Bristol, UK and the IRDP database can be accessed by authorised users via the website https://safe.nhsbt.nhs.uk/RareDonor/Login/Default.aspx. Access is restricted to medical professionals who may be required to source rare blood for clinical use only. All access requests should be made by email to the IBGRL (rare.donor@remove-this.nhsbt.nhs.uk) and staff at the IBGRL will also be happy to assist with a search when required.


German Society for Transfusion Medicine and Immunohematology (DGTI)

DGTI represents Transfusion Medicine in the German-speaking countries (Austria, Switzerland and Germany). DGTI comprises a WP on rare blood groups (Arbeitsgruppe "Seltene Blutgruppen").

Their website supports colleagues in their search for rare blood providing links to national and international institutions with stocks of rare blood or registries of rare donors. The website also deals with the current rare blood challenges; this information is partially in English.

To register Rare Donors on the DGTI's Registry, click here.

  1. Rare blood donor program in the country: Right time to start. Kaur R. et.al. Asian Journal of Transfusion Science, 2012.
  2. Provision of blood products for the highly immunized patient. Nance S.J.ISBT Science Series, 2009.
  3. The International Rare Donor Panel. Poole J.ISBT Science Series, 2009.
  4. How to find, recruit and maintain rare blood donors. Nance S.T.Current Opinion in Hematology, 2009.
  5. Donors with a rare pheno (geno) type. Reesink H.W. et.al. Vox Sanguinis, 2008.
  6. The utilization of rare blood donors. Nance S.J.ISBT Science Series, 2007.
  7. A review of the ISBT rare blood donor program. Woodfield G. et.al. Immunohematology, 2004.
  8. Rare blood donors: the past and the future. Woodfield, G. Vox Sanguinis, 2002.
  9. Rare Blood: An ISBT Working Party Report on Rare Blood Donors. Anstee D. et.al.Vox Sanguinis, 1999.
  10. A decade of rare donor services in the United States. Mallory D. et.al.Vox Sanguinis, 1992.
  11. The establishment of the international panel of rare donors. Mourant A.E.Vox Sanguinis, 1965.


Christine Lomas-Francis

Christine Lomas-Francis


New York Blood Centre
Lab Immunohaematology&Genomics
New York, USA