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About 5 million Americans need blood transfusions every year, for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, a transfusion is an emergency (like losing blood after an accident). Sometimes it’s expected (as with treatment for cancer).
While transfusions are common, there’s a lot more to them than just taking blood from one person and using it to help someone else. It’s very important to keep the blood supply safe. So, each unit of blood goes through many tests to check for infectious diseases and establish the blood type.
Four Blood Groups.
It might seem like blood is blood it all looks pretty much the same to the naked eye. But although all blood contains the same basic components (red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma), not everyone has the same types of markers on the surface of their red blood cells. These markers (also called antigens) are proteins and sugars that our bodies use to identify the blood cells as belonging in our own system.Canada Goose Jackets
Blood cell markers are microscopic. But they can make the difference between blood being accepted or rejected after a transfusion. So medical experts group blood into types based on the different markers.
The four main blood groups are:
Type A. This blood type has a marker known as “A.”
Type B. This blood type has a marker known as “B.”
Type AB. The blood cells in this type have both A and B markers.
Type O. This blood type has neither A or B markers.
Plus Rh Factor.
Some people have an additional marker, called Rh factor, in their blood. Because each of the four main blood groups (A, B, AB, and O) may or may not have Rh factor, scientists further classify blood as either “positive” (meaning it has Rh factor) or “negative” (without Rh factor).
Having any of these markers (or none of them) doesn’t make a person’s blood any healthier or stronger. It’s just a genetic difference, like having green eyes instead of blue or straight hair instead of curly. This blood type doesn’t have A or B markers, and it doesn’t have Rh factor.
O positive. This blood type doesn’t have A or B markers, but it does have Rh factor. O positive blood is one of the two most common blood types (the other being A positive).
A negative. This blood type has A marker only.
A positive. This blood type has A marker and Rh factor, but not B marker. Along with O positive, it’s one of the two most common blood types.
B negative. This blood type has B marker only.
B positive. This blood type has B marker and Rh factor, but not A marker.
AB negative. This blood type has A and B markers, but not Rh factor.
AB positive. This blood type has all three types of markers A, B, and Rh factor.
Blood banks and hospitals keep careful tabs on blood type to be sure that donated blood matches the blood type of the person receiving the transfusion. Giving someone the wrong blood type can cause serious health problems.
Why Blood Type Matters
The immune system produces proteins known as antibodies that act as protectors if foreign cells enter the body. Depending on which blood type you have, your immune system will produce antibodies to react against other blood types.
If a patient is given the wrong blood type, the antibodies immediately set out to destroy the invading cells. This aggressive, whole body response can give someone a fever, chills, and low blood pressure. It can even lead vital body systems like breathing or kidneys to fail.
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