A person’s best chance of finding a match is a donor of the same ethnic background

Line drawing of three blood drops representing blood types A, B and O

Matching rare blood types

Most people can be helped with blood from donors of any ethnic background (if they have the same ABO and RhD blood type). However, some people require blood with specific combinations of markers. Examples include people with chronic illnesses like sickle cell disease or thalassemia, who may require regular blood transfusions. Often, donors whose ancestors are from the same regions as blood product recipients (or their ancestors) are most likely to have the same combination of inherited markers and thus the greatest potential to help.   

Line drawing of a blood donation bag showing a red blood drop icon

Regular blood transfusions

People who receive regular transfusions generally have better outcomes when the blood they receive comes from a donor whose blood type closely matches theirs. With over 33 different blood types to match, it’s critical that we establish a donor base that is as ethnically diverse as possible, to meet the needs of patients from all communities.

Line drawing of hip bone stem cells

Stem cell transplants

For certain life-threatening illnesses like blood cancer (leukemia), a stem cell transplant is the only effective cure. Leukemia and other disorders that are treated with bone marrow transplant can affect people from all ethnicities. However, people of mixed ancestry and ethnic backgrounds other than white* are far less likely to find a suitable stem cell match in Canada.

With a larger, more ethnically diverse registry (and greater diversity of HLA profiles among registrants), we will be able to save more lives.

*Reporting is based on self-identified ethnicity

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