IBGRL Reference Services



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Red Cell Reference

The International Rare Donor Panel 

Molecular Diagnostics User Guides Sending Samples


  Red Cell Reference

The Red Cell Reference Department of the IBGRL undertakes antibody and antigen investigations of a ‘non-routine’ and complex nature. 
Antibody investigations normally involve a rare phenotype or a complex mixture of antibodies (or both) where compatible blood would be difficult to find. 

Red cell antigen investigations may be carried out on all blood group systems where determination of phenotype is difficult or an uncommon polymorphism is suspected.

The laboratory has a unique collection of over 4000 rare typing sera and 2000 rare red cells. This enables the laboratory to solve the most complex serological problems.

One-half of referrals are from specialist centres in Europe, Japan, Australia and the USA. In collaboration with workers around the world, the laboratory continues to make important discoveries in the field of human blood groups. The laboratory also maintains the National and International Panels of Rare Donors.



Who We Are

The IBGRL was established in 1946 to provide Reference Services related to blood transfusion. In 1952, the IBGRL was designated a collaborating centre for the World Health Organisation. One of IBGRL’s functions is to maintain a database of donors with rare blood types. Authorized laboratories can interrogate the International Rare Donor Panel directly via this web site. The IBGRL has a distinguished record of research in blood transfusion science. Some of this research has led to the generation of a range of monoclonal antibodies which are available to researchers around the world as IBGRL Research Products.

One of the IBGRL’s primary roles is to provide specialist clinical diagnostic services for NHS Blood and Transplant. The IBGRL provides those services whose quality and cost-effectiveness are maximised by provision from a single Centre which has expert staff and has available a collection of very rare reagents and uses sophisticated techniques to resolve difficult problems in relatively small numbers of patients.
The major areas of diagnostic expertise are in red cell reference, blood group genotyping and red cell membrane biochemistry.

IBGRL Reference Services are CPA accredited:


CPA Reference No: 2928.

Molecular Diagnostics

The Molecular Diagnostics Department of IBGRL undertakes genetic investigation to identify women with antigen-positive fetuses who are at risk of haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). Upon identification, expecting mothers can then be informed and prepared for further careful monitoring during their pregnancy. 
The Molecular Diagnostics Department also identifies pregnant women who have antigen-negative fetuses and who therefore are not at danger from HDFN.

Genotyping is also provided for the most clinically important blood groups of patients who have been multi-transfused; but not serologically typed prior to transfusion.

The laboratory conducts a fetal sex genotyping service for pregnancies affected by X-linked genetic conditions or when early treatment of the fetus differs according to fetal gender. This test can be performed earlier in pregnancy than blood group genotyping and samples can be accepted from 7 weeks gestation.