American Rare Donor Program (ARDP)

Tue, June 26, 2018 7:56 AM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

The American Rare Donor Program (ARDP) is a cooperative program of the American Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). The ARDP exists to ensure that patients with rare blood needs can find matching rare blood when they need it. A person’s blood is considered rare if only one in 1,000 or more individuals lack the same antigen as that individual. If only one in 10,000 or more people lack the same antigen then that individual’s blood is considered very rare. The rarer a person’s blood type, the more difficult the circumstances if that person suddenly needs matched blood for a transfusion. The ARDP strives to make sure that rare blood is available for anyone in need.

In the 1960’s the American Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks developed registries of rare donors to supply patients in need of rare blood. The two rare donor registries were merged into one, resulting in an ARDP database of more than 80,000 rare donors in the United States. These individuals can be contacted by a local ARDP member facility if their rare blood is needed. If rare blood cannot be located domestically, international recruitment of donors with rare blood can also be an option.

An example of how important and effective the ARDP members can be in supplying patients’ needs was demonstrated over a 12-month period in 2016 and 2017 in support of two patients who required Group O blood negative for the Vel antigen. During this 12-month period, the ARDP was able to source 122 rare blood units for these two patients. Forty of these units were liquid units and 72 were frozen units provided by multiple ARDP member facilities across the nation. During this time, one ARDP member facility was successful in encouraging a donor in its area, who had not donated since 2004, to donate a unit of blood to support this rare blood request. Another donor in the ARDP registry responded to a recruitment email the same day it was received, decided to donate and the donated unit was shipped to the patient’s facility within five days of the donor’s response to the email plea. The ARDP recognizes the extraordinary commitment and recruitment of rare donors by the following ARDP members in support of these patients:

Blood Center of Wisconsin

BonFils Blood Center

Blood Systems Laboratories (UBS)

Carolinas Durham Red Cross

Central Ohio Red Cross

Community Blood Center of Kansas City

Dayton Community Blood Center

Great Lakes Red Cross

Heart of America Red Cross

Hoxworth Blood Center


Innovative Blood Resources

LifeShare Blood Centers

Lewis and Clark Red Cross

Massachusetts Red Cross

Mid-Atlantic Red Cross

Miller-Keystone Blood Center

New York Penn Red Cross

North Central Red Cross

Northeast Pennsylvania Red Cross

Northern California Red Cross

Northern Ohio Red Cross

OneBlood – Ft Lauderdale

OneBlood – St Petersburg

Pacific Northwest Red Cross

Penn-Jersey Red Cross

San Diego Blood Bank

Southern Region Red Cross

Southern California Red Cross

Southwest Region Red Cross

In the event that rare blood is not available domestically, international recruitment efforts can be undertaken. The ARDP successfully imported eleven units of Group O, Vel negative blood from France, Spain and Switzerland to support these two patient’s rare blood needs. The ARDP would like to acknowledge the efforts of the National Institute of Blood Transfusion (INTS) in France, Interregionale Blutspende, SRC in Switzerland and Centro de Transfusion Comunidad in Spain in supporting our endeavor to source units for these patients.

Submitted by Dexter Facey, Manager, American Rare Donor Program


ADRP, an International Division of America's Blood Centers, is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

1717 K St NW, Suite 900 | Washington, DC | 20006 Tel: (202) 393-5725 | Fax: (202) 393-1282 

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