How to use a HLA kit for collecting Buccal (Cheek) swab sample?

Last Modified: September 13, 2019  |   Created on: April 18, 2019

HLA test is Human Leukocyte Antigen Test, also known as Tissue typing or Histocompatibility testing which is done to identify which HLA genes and antigens a person has inherited, primarily to match up donors and recipients of organ and bone marrow transplants. It is required prior to selecting a suitable donor for an organ or bone marrow transplant and for transplant recipients. 


Prerequisites before taking the sample

  • Wait about 1 to 2 hours after eating or drinking before collecting HLA samples.
  • We need only inner cheek cells and not saliva. When you do this process, the swabs need not be wet.

  • The kit consists of an addressed envelope, a swab stick holder and 2 packets of sterile cotton swab sticks.  Each sterile packet has two swab sticks in them.


  • You need to collect the cells from 4 sections of the inner cheek (i.e. Top left, bottom  left, top right and bottom right portion of the inner cheeks)

Steps for collecting the sample

  1. Fill in the HLA / KIR / ABO -RH typing requisition form provided in the kit.
  2. Open a sterile packet and take out one stick from a sterile packet.
  3. Ensure that the cotton portion in the stick is not touched while or after open.
  4. Keep the mouth as dry as possible (have no or less saliva) while collecting the sample.
  5. Place the swab on the inside of the upper right cheek.
  6. Rotate the swab clock-wise & anti clock-wise, 10 times each. Use the same force used to brush the teeth.
  7. Take the swab out, hold it in a hand for a minute till it dries a little. DO NOT TOUCH THE SWAB TO CHECK IF IT IS DRY.
  8. Insert this swab stick into the slot.
  9. Take the 2nd swab out from the same sterile packet. Place the swab on the inside of the lower right cheek. Follow the same steps from 5 to 8.
  10. Carefully Insert each swab in the slots provided in the kit
  11. Seal the pouch and put the swab holder inside the envelop provided.
  12. Fill out the information asked for in the form printed in the case of the kit. Please double check that the form is filled out completely, including the date and time the samples were collected. If you don’t fill out the form completely, there may be a delay in processing your samples.
  13. Seal the envelope and mail back the kit to the hospital address provided to you.

Additional Information

  • If more than 1 donor is sending samples in the same envelope, make sure that all swabs are in the correct tube and labelled with the correct donor’s information.
  • If the swab drops, please throw it away as the testing kit can be submitted with fewer than four swabs

Not Sure what to do?

At any point if you are stuck, confused about any of the steps or have some other concerns, please feel free to contact us at

Vanshika Rawat

Written By Vanshika Rawat

Vanshika Rawat is an experienced content developer. She is well-versed and knowledgeable in topics of science and medicine, and has worked under brilliant scientist during her higher education. She has obtained her degrees in Masters and Bachelors in Science - Microbiology (with Hons. ) from renowned institutions - Panjab University and University of Delhi.

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