When most of us think of "rare blood," we think of AB-positive or O-negative. But it turns out there are far, far rarer types than that. In Filton, England, there's a lab that handles blood donations from across the UK—and identifies this super-rare blood.
Photographer Greg White recently got a tour of the NHS Blood & Transplant's Filton Blood Center while on assignment for the science publication Mosaic. The International Blood Group Reference Laboratory (IBGRL) keeps track of "golden blood," because of its extraordinarily rare occurrence and its ability to save the lives of the few people who share it.
The IBGRL has been around since the 1940s, and it's where many major advances in blood science have taken place, like the discovery of many new antigens—the stuff in our blood that invokes immune responses, and the presence or absence of which determines our blood types. But one of its most important roles is keeping track of rare blood donors, both so that they can donate to other rare blood type patients in need, and for equally vital research purposes.
Inside the Blood Factory That Keeps Track of the World's Rare Donors