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American Rare Donor Program

The vast majority of blood types fall into one of the major ABO groups.  Although O positive is the most common blood type, not all ethnic groups have the same mix of these blood types.  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.

The American Rare Donor Program (ARDP) was established in 1998 as a collaboration of the American Red Cross and AABB Immunohematology Reference Laboratories.  ARDP tracks and organizes rare donor information in an effort to better meet the needs of patients with rare blood types.  Currently over 80 organizations participate in ARDP and over 45,000 active rare donors are in the database.

The American Red Cross is dedicated to finding rare blood donors who meet the specialized needs of patients all over the country through its 39 Immunohematology Reference Laboratories. The American Red Cross National Reference Laboratory for the Blood Group Serology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania manages the program. 

When a rare blood type is requested for a patient, the database can be searched to locate donors negative for a high-prevalence antigen or negative for multiple common antigens to ensure the patient receives compatible blood.  Thanks to the American Red Cross and other participating blood centers, over 94% of the patients get the blood they need.

There are important things that everyone can do

If you are... If you work at a donor center…
A rare donor, please donate as often as you are able And your facility has known rare donors, actively encourage these donors to donate.
A sibling of someone with a rare blood type, make this known to the bloodcollecting facility – your blood may be rare too. Test the siblings of patients who require rare blood as they have 1 in 4 chance of being rare also.