You might be a card-carrying member of your local blood donation group; but do you really understand what your blood type is? Do you know where your blood goes after you’ve donated it for the greater good? And more importantly, do you know what kind of blood you would receive if you were to need a blood transfusion? We’ll answer these questions and more in the following article.
The Universals of the Blood World
When it comes to transfusions of blood (or plasma) there are both universal donors, and universal receivers. Universal donors can donate blood to anyone; however they can only receive blood from their own type. There are also universal receivers who can receive blood from any blood donor, but can only donate to their own blood type. Confused yet?
Here’s a simple chart to understand who can donate and who can receive:
A person with blood type A can receive blood from blood types A, O*
A person with blood type B can receive blood from blood types B, O*
A person with blood type AB** can receive blood from blood types AB**, O*
A person with blood type O* can receive blood from blood type O*
* This is the universal donor.
** This is the universal recipient.
However, this chart is reversed when you are talking about plasma instead of blood. This makes AB the universal donor and O the universal recipient.
Positive, or Negative?
In addition to being A, B, AB or O type blood, your blood can also be either positive (+) or negative (-,) making things even more confusing. In genetics, the positive (+) type is the dominant allele, while the negative (-) is the allele. The positive (+) and negative (-) represent your blood type’s Rh protein levels. If your blood is too high or low in these proteins, you may not be able to donate blood.
If both parents have (+)(+) then the child is guaranteed to be (+)(+) to have a positive Rh blood type.
If one parent is (+)(-) and the other parent is (+)(+), the child may either be (+)(+) or (+)(-) which is a positive Rh blood type.
If both parents are (+)(-) then the child will either be (+)(+) or (+)(-) or (-)(-) making the child either positive or negative in Rh blood types.
If both parents are (-)(-) then the child will also be (-)(-) which is guaranteed negative Rh blood type.
If one parent is (+)(+) and the other parent is (-)(-) then the child will be (+)(-) which is positive Rh blood type.
If one parent is (+)(-) and the other parent is (-)(-) then the child may be (+)(-) or (-)(-) which is either positive or negative Rh blood type.
Knowing Your Blood Type
If you’re ever in an accident, knowing your own blood type is valuable. Even if you’ve simply got a card in your wallet stating your blood type, this will help the doctors – especially if your situation is serious. However, most hospitals automatically use the universal donor in situations like these – so even if you don’t know your blood type, you’re still covered.
Blood Types, Rh Factors and Pregnancy
When women become pregnant, they get routine blood work done through their health provider. While this is still a simple, routine procedure – it’s incredibly important for the health of the mother and child. One of the tests the health provider will perform is a blood type and factor screening test.
If the mother has a negative Rh blood type, and the father has a positive Rh blood type, the baby conceived may also be an positive Rh blood type. While this does not sound like a major issue, it always has the possibility to turn into one. If at any point during the pregnancy, the baby’s blood enters into the mother’s blood system, then the mother’s blood system can react to create antibodies against the positive Rh blood. This is called sensitizing. The body will then assume that the baby is an “infection” that must be attacked and destroyed. In severe cases, this will cause severe illnesses, brain damage and death of the infant.
Fortunately, doctors are prepared for this kind of situation. It is possible to get a shot of Rhogam (or RhIg) at approximately 28 weeks of pregnancy. This will help prevent sensitizing of the mother throughout the rest of the pregnancy. While the threat is real, the issue rarely presents itself and most mothers have nothing to worry about.
Fun Facts about Your Blood Type
In Japan, your blood type is practically your horoscope. The Japanese have made their blood type a part of the daily routine. Video game characters come with bios that list their blood types (such as Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, and Street Fighter,) morning TV news features blood type “horoscopes” and so do local newspapers.
In Japan, your blood type may signify the following:
People with type A blood are said to be levelheaded, serious, calm and composed, reliable, trustworthy, shy, perfectionists, loyal but secretive. They are said to be the artsy-type and can be arrogant and reckless if given the opportunity.
People with type B are extremely curious with several hobbies and interests. They tend to excel in things and are considered to be independent spirits with strong personalities. They are bright, cheerful, and full of energy but they aren’t social. They can be unreliable, selfish, lazy, impatient, and unpredictable.
People with type AB blood are distant and unpredictable. They are basically a split personality of the two groups (A and B) combined. They over-think things, but are extremely outgoing or extremely shy. They can also be moody, easily offended, childish and strict.
People with type O are the most outgoing and expressive. They are extremely passionate, highly motivated and are natural-born leaders. They are big-hearted, peaceful and also carefree. They can also become obsessive in their goals as well as being levelheaded, independent, goal-orientated, and adaptable. However they can also be greedy, clumsy, jealous, and a loud mouth.
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The Great Geek Manual; “Japanese Culture 101: Personality By Blood Types”
Robin Elise Weiss; “Rh Factor in Pregnancy”
WikiPedia; “Blood Type”