Mon, Jan 29, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Rare blood donors found for urgent spinal operation

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

After a frantic search effort, enough of a rare blood type -- Jk null O type -- has been donated, allowing a Taoyuan woman's spinal surgery to proceed.

When Taoyuan General Hospital requested six bags of Jk null O type blood for a spinal operation, it was discovered that the nation's blood banks had no stock matching Chang Shu-wen's (張淑文) rare type.

Although Chang has frequently donated blood in the past, she can only receive blood lacking the Jk antigen.

"Of the 5 million donors on our books who have previously donated blood, less than ten type O donors were Jk null," Hsinchu blood bank head Yang Ping-hsin (楊炳炘) said.

With the help of hospitals, blood banks nation-wide and police, four donors were located by friday.

Three individuals agreed to donate, yielding a total of five bags of blood, while the remaining match, said he would not donate.

Six bags were required for the surgery.

The last match was a man who had last donated blood in 2001.

The Chinese-language daily China Times said that when the man heard of Chang's urgent need to be operated, he demanded cash in return for his blood.

"Show me the money and then we'll talk," he was quoted as saying.

"It's my blood, I can decided whether or not to donate," he was quoted as saying.

The China Times said that Chang was upset by the man's demand and responded: "I don't want his blood, I won't pay him to save my life."

Fortunately, additional search efforts succeeded in locating another donor in Kaohsiung, who agreed to donate two bags of blood.

"It's quite difficult and time-consuming to locate these donors," Hsinchu Blood Center employee Wang Chiung-yu (王瓊玉) said. "In some cases, it had been years since they donated blood and they have moved from the addresses we have on file."

O type Jk null blood is extremely rare, Yang said.

"Not even one in 10,000 people have this blood type," Yang said, explaining that the Jk null group is one of many blood sub-types that further divide the A, AB, B and O groups that many people have heard of.

"If this woman does not receive blood of the correct type, the transfusion will result in hemolysis," Yang said.

Other rare blood types that present challenges to the blood bank include Rhesus negative blood, which is found in just 0.03 percent of Taiwan's population.

"Rhesus negative blood is a lot less common in Taiwan than it is in other countries," Yang said.

He advised people with Rhesus negative blood to volunteer their contact information to hospitals in case a donor must be located quickly for an emergency transfusion.

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