What Is Your Blood Type

Published: 22nd March 2012
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Blood transfusion is a very common medical procedure, and it is needed by approximately five million Americans every year. It is required when someone losses a large amount of blood due to a serious accident, or as a treatment procedure for cancer patients. The task of transfusing blood involves a lot more than just collecting blood from one person and giving it to another. It also entails dozens of tests, which are conducted to ensure that the blood is suitable for the recipient and free from infectious diseases. In order to determine whether a unit of blood is suitable for a certain recipient, the blood type has to be established.


Everybody’s blood looks the same and performs the same functions. However, the markers on the surface of red blood cells may differ from one person to another. Known as antigens, these markers are proteins or sugars that are used by the body to identify the blood cells that belong to the immune system. They are microscopic, and they serve the important purpose of identifying blood types. After a blood transfusion, the blood cell markers will determine whether the unit of blood is suitable for the recipient or not.


There are altogether four primary blood groups, and they are Type A, Type B, Type AB, and Type O. Type A has the “A” blood cell marker, while Type B has the “B” marker. The blood cells in Type AB have both the “A” marker and the “B” marker, and Type O has neither the “A” nor “B” marker. Other than these markers, an additional marker known as Rh factor may be present in some people’s blood. Since the Rh factor may or may not be found in each of the four primary blood groups, scientists have further classified blood groups as “positive” and “negative”. This results in a total of eight blood groups, which include A positive, A negative, B positive, B negative, AB positive, AB negative, O positive, and O negative. Among these blood groups, O positive is the most common worldwide.


Blood type is passed down genetically from parents to children. This means that the blood groups of a person’s mother and father will determine his or her blood group. Here is a chart showing the possible blood types that children can inherit from their parents:


Parent 1 A A B AB AB AB O O O AB
Parent 2 A B B AB A B O A B O
Possible Blood Group of Child A X X X X X X X
B X X X X X X X
AB X X X X
O X X X X X X

Having different blood types does not make people healthier or unhealthier, or stronger or weaker. Blood type is just a form of genetic identity, just like eye color and hair texture. Despite differences in blood cell markers, every human being’s blood is composed of the same components. There are over 4,000 different components in human blood, and the four most important components are red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. The function of red blood cells is to transport oxygen to all the tissues in the body and remove carbon dioxide, while white blood cells work to locate, identify, and eliminate alien proteins on viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Platelets form clots to reduce bleeding when the body sustains a wound, preventing excessive blood loss, and plasma brings nourishment to cells and removes waste products.



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