Blood Donors: Māori and Pasifika more likely to have 'very rare' blood type

By Kelvin McDonald
Photo / File

Māori and Pasifika blood is so unique that the New Zealand Blood Service is highlighting the importance of donors from the two communities.

A very rare blood type called Jk3 can be found in about one in every 100 Māori and Pasifika donors, with the chances of finding the blood type in these communities greater than other ethnic groups, it says.

“Māori and Pasifika blood is quite unique,” Asuka Burge, the organisation's national marketing manager says.

“While most people are aware of the four main blood groups – A, B, AB and O – not many of us are aware blood can be divided into dozens of sub-groups. There are 43 recognised blood types, including the clinically significant Kidd (Jk) blood group."

“In New Zealand, there are only 20 donors that currently have this rare sub-group. This means it is particularly challenging if this rare blood type is required by a patient in need. To build our database of donors and to identify more people with this unique blood group, we need to grow our Māori and Pasifika donor database by about 27 percent or roughly 3,000 new donors over the next 12 months,” he says.

Currently, less than nine per cent of active donors (or just over 10,000 people) across Aotearoa identify as Māori and Pasifika.

“There’s a real good chance that someone in our community, in your hapū or your whānau has needed blood or will need blood. It’s got to come from somewhere, so maybe it should come from us. It’s the ultimate koha,” Burge says.