Why is knowing your blood type important?
All blood is made up of the same essential elements: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma (the liquid portion of the blood that carries the other components). But blood also contains antigens that can trigger your immune system to attack transfused blood if it isn’t a compatible type.
What are the different blood types?
There are four major blood groups: A, B, AB and O. These are determined by the presence or absence of two antigens – A and B – on the surface of red blood cells. There is also a protein called the Rh factor, which can be either present (+) or absent (–), and this creates the eight most common blood types (A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, AB-).
So, what does this really mean? Simply put, it means you have an A blood type if your blood has A antigens or a B blood type if you have B antigens. If you have both A and B antigens, then you have an AB blood type. And if you have neither A nor B antigens, then you have an O blood type.
Each of these types are then further classified based on their Rh factor. For example, some people have A positive blood while others have A negative blood, depending on whether this protein is present or absent.
How is my blood type determined?
Like your height and eye color, blood type is passed genetically from your parents. Whether your blood group is type A, B, AB or O is based on the blood types of your mother or father.
Blood Type Compatibility
If you have type AB blood, you have both A and B antigens. This means you’re a universal recipient and you can receive any type of blood. However, you can only donate blood to other people who have type AB blood.
If you have type O blood, which has no antigens, you’re considered a universal donor. You can give your blood to anyone without triggering their immune system, but you can only receive type O blood.Whether it's your first donation or your 50th, ask about your blood type at your next appointment. You may be surprised by the results! You don’t need to know your blood type before you donate blood.
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