More Detailed Blood Testing Available for Patients with Disorders Including Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia

Patients with blood disorders can now get detailed blood group typing to enable better matched and potentially safer transfusions.

NHS Blood and Transplant

NHS Blood and Transplant is now offering to genotype blood groups for those patients with haemoglobinopathies, which are disorders including sickle cell disease and thalassaemia that affect the body’s ability to make the oxygen carrying molecule haemoglobin.

The typing will also detect ‘Rh Variant’ blood groups, which are slightly different to other blood groups and need to be considered when planning transfusions. Previously, typing to this level would only be possible through reference laboratories using complex genotyping methods. Unlike the older phenotyping methods, NHS Blood and Transplant’s new, extended, testing can also be provided for people who have recently received blood.

NHS Blood and Transplant’s work will enable the creation of a database of genotyped blood details for patients in England with these disorders.

Extended blood type information, and fast access to the database, will potentially enable safer blood transfusions for patients with haemoglobin disorders, who may need numerous transfusions during their lifetime and who may move between hospitals.