- Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

January 2, 2008

Rare blood type discovered by OBI lab

OKLAHOMA CITY— As the end came to a spectacular centennial celebration highlighting accomplishments of Oklahoma and her people, it seems an appropriate time to bring attention to another distinction found in Oklahoma.

Studies show some members of the Choctaw Tribe in Oklahoma have blood characteristics not found in any other part of the world.  This discovery was made in 1997 at Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI). 

The “type” or minor blood group is known scientifically as ENAV(MNS42).  It was first called “Avis” – named after the first Oklahoman in whom it was found.  So far, only three individuals have been found to have this unique type.  Only select members of the Choctaw Tribe have blood that is compatible with this type.  As the largest supplier of blood for Native Americans in Oklahoma, OBI is faced with the challenge to meet the needs of this distinctive population. 

Meeting this challenge on a daily basis is the job of Medical Technologists in OBI’s Immunohematology Reference Laboratory. 

These scientists screen thousands of units of blood each year in an effort to identify donors who can provide blood for safe transfusions to patients who may require special types.

OBI’s nationally recognized lab is staffed with technologists who are experts in the field of Transfusion Medicine.  As the only AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) accredited Reference Lab in the state of Oklahoma, technologists are frequently asked to find blood with special types that may occur in as few as one-in-ten-thousand donors. 

The lab has identified more than 30,000 donors with rare blood types.  Because OBI has made the commitment and investment in these rare donors, as many as 175 of these special units are stored in the Reference Lab at any one time. They are available for patient use at a moment’s notice.  This is only possible because of the loyal, giving, altruistic nature of Oklahomans.  Once donors have been identified as “rare”, many remain loyal donors and provide donations on a frequent basis.  

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