School of Health Professions

Professor makes the case for more research on frequency of blood antigens among Hispanics

Assistant Professor Tiffany R. Wafford

By Kate Hunger

Assistant Professor Tiffany Roerich Wafford, MSTM, MLS, SBB (ASCP), analyzed 3,455 blood donor records to confirm the prevalence of red blood cell antigens among Hispanic blood donors in South Texas.

Wafford was following a hunch after noticing a pattern while typing blood samples in her previous role as supervisor of an immunohematology reference laboratory. The frequency of antigens among Hispanic blood donors did not match up with Caucasian and Black donor populations. She looked to the literature to see what research had been published on the topic and found none.

“I had been working in the lab and saw the results. I kind of knew it was probably going to be different,” she said.

Wafford presented the results of her study and master’s thesis, “Prevalence of Rh, Kell, Kidd, Duffy, and MNS Antigens in the Hispanic Donor Population of South Texas by Immucor PreciseType HEA” to the 2021 Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies (AABB) annual meeting, which was held virtually Oct. 17–19.

She hopes that her findings, which show that there are differences in antigen frequencies between Hispanic and Caucasian donors and Hispanic and Black donors, will inspire additional research. Ultimately, she said, understanding how common red blood cell antigens are among blood donors will help ensure safer matches of donor blood to recipients, improve recruitment of donors for specific blood requests and reduce the risk of reactions in recipients to donated blood, such as transfusion reactions and hemolytic disease among fetuses and newborns.

“I think it’s cool we get to bring this information to the nation to try to stimulate connections and get people to explore this further,” she said.

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