Blood is composed of several things: it contains red blood cells as well as white blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. White blood cells help fight infection. Blood also includes platelets, which is involved in blood clotting.
Additionally, there are antigens. Antigens are the things that give blood its type. Antigens are composed of proteins and sugars that sit on red blood cells. There are 33 blood typing systems, but only two are most commonly known: the ABO and the Rh-positive/Rh-negative blood groups. People are probably most familiar with these types because they include the eight common blood types: A-positive, A-negative, B-positive, B-negative, AB-positive, AB-negative, O-positive, and O-negative. If you are interested in learning more about blood types, continue reading below for more information.
Different Blood Types
As discussed previously, there are eight major blood types. However, these types can be categorized based on their groups, including the group A, group B, group AB, and group O. In addition to these groups, there is also the Rh factor. Blood types are determined by whether or not antigens are absent or present on the red blood cell. In addition, genetics play an important role in determining what your blood type is. Below we will go into more detail about each blood type system and group.
In group A, the red blood cells have the A antigen. In group B, the red blood cells have the B antigen. Group AB includes the red blood cells that have both the A and B antigens. And lastly, you guessed it, in group O the red blood cells have neither A nor B antigens. The ABO system is an important way to determine your blood type by analyzing what antigens are associated with your red blood cells.
The Rh system also deals with the kind of antigens on your red blood cells. If you have the antigen RhD on your red blood cells, then you are Rh-positive. However, if there are no RhD antigens present, then you are Rh-negative.
The ABO and Rh systems are more commonly known. There are about thirty more blood typing systems that allow us to categorize our blood types. The blood group systems that are most clinically important are the Kell, Kidd, and Duffy systems. These systems also rely on the examination of which group of antigens are on the red blood cells.
Why are Blood Types Important?
Not all blood types are the same. Distinguishing blood types is a very important process, especially during a transfusion. Transfusions occur when a recipient needs blood. Only certain blood types can work well together, which is why both donor and recipient need to have their blood types established.
For example, if someone has blood type A it is necessary that the individual does not receive blood type B. The plasma has antibodies that will destroy the antigens it is not familiar with. So, when the B antigens are introduced to the A antigens, the antibodies will destroy the B antigens. Type O patients have antibodies that will fight against both A and B antigens. Type AB patients do not have these kinds of fighting antibodies because they already contain both A and B antigens. This means that people who have the blood type AB can receive transfusions from all blood types.
The rarest blood types include AB-negative (around 1% of Americans), B-negative (2% of Americans), and AB-positive (4% of Americans). On the other hand, the most common blood types are A-positive (34% of Americans) and O-positive (37% of Americans).
There are also universal donors. Universal patients are people who have a universal blood type. This simply means that these donors can transfer their blood to any type. Blood types O- and Rh-negative can be used in all patients during transfusion. Also, there are universal patients. Unlike universal donors, universal patients can receive any type of blood. These patients have the AB-positive blood type.
When transferring blood from donor to patient it is important to find a match. Blood type categories allow for a smoother process of transfusions. A patient can have a dangerous reaction to the transfusion if they are not matched properly.
What is Your Blood Type?
If you do not know your blood type, you can simply contact your doctor or donate blood to find out. Blood types are easily determined. Your doctor or health care professional can determine your blood type by combining your blood with a reagent with antibodies. For more information about blood types, visit the American Red Cross site.