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Mario Higgins

Mario Higgins

Blood Donation, Treatment, Wisconsin

What blood type do you have and how is it rare?

I have a missing protein in my blood. This missing protein affects one in 500 African Americans — also people from the Caribbean islands and Asia. They first thought the mutation was the body’s way to fight off malaria.

I have donated matched platelets for people who have the same missing protein that I do. It helps their body heal faster. If these people received platelets from someone else, their bodies would fight off those platelets. 

Do you know if your blood has helped anyone?

I know my donations have helped people in seven different states. They’re people I will probably never meet. I know I’m saving lives, and that makes it worthwhile.

I’ve also donated to a little girl in Canada; she was having surgery and needed my specific blood type. It’s just such a tremendous feeling to know I’ve touched someone’s life in that way.

I also get called when a patient is in need of my platelet donations. So, I donate platelets on demand. As a rare blood donor, I understand how valuable my blood can be for some patients, and I want to make sure it’s there when someone needs it.

How long have you known you have rare blood that can help special patients?

It has probably been about seven or eight years. I learned about it through my regular blood screening at BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

Why do you donate?

Somebody will need it. I have a 12-year-old daughter who has been through three major heart surgeries. Although I donated before that, it just has a different meaning now. She’s doing great now. You would never even know. She had her first surgery when she was four months old, another when she was five years old, and a third when she was six.

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