Unless you’re part of the medical industry, you don’t spend much time thinking about your blood type. After all, your blood type doesn’t impact your everyday life. As long as your blood is circulating and you feel healthy, you’re good to go.
But blood type is a huge issue in the world of blood donation, as you know if you have a blood type like O. Wondering what it means that you’re a universal donor or why A and B negative are in such high demand? Keep reading to learn all about why your blood type matters.
What Is a Blood Type?
Every person has antigens or particles that cause an immune response, on the surface of their red blood cells, along with antibodies, which provoke the same response and dwell in your plasma. If antigens from the wrong blood type enter your body, your immune system can trigger the blood to clump together, forming life-threatening clots.
The type of antibodies and antigens in your plasma and blood determine your blood type.
What Are the Main Blood Types?
The medical community categorizes blood types in two main ways:
The blood grouping system you’re most familiar with is probably the ABO system. People with blood type A have A antigens on their red blood cells and B antibodies in their plasma. People with blood type B are the opposite: they have B antigens on their red blood cells and A antibodies in their plasma.
People with AB type blood have both A and B antigens on their red blood cells while lacking both A and B antibodies in the plasma, while blood type O donors are the opposite (no antigens on their red blood cells but both A and B antibodies in the plasma).
The Rh factor is another antigen that could be present in your blood. If you have the Rh protein, you are Rh-positive; if not, you are Rh-negative. Most people in the world are Rh-positive and can receive blood transfusion both from Rh-positive and Rh-negative people. However, Rh-negative people can only receive Rh-negative blood donations without adverse effects.
Your Rh factor is denoted by a plus or minus next to your blood type. For instance, if you have type O blood and test positive for the Rh factor, your blood type is O+.
Why Are Some Blood Types More Needed for Donations Than Others?
Blood type matters because not every type of blood can be donated to every person. As a result, people with AB blood are in high demand as universal plasma donors while people with O blood are in high demand as universal blood donors.
You might also see more requests for a donation if you have a negative Rh factor. In particular, if you have O- or AB- blood, your blood or plasma, respectively, can be given to anyone in need.
If you have type AB blood you’re doubly lucky: you can give your plasma to anyone, and you can also receive any type of blood without negative effects (in contrast, people with type O blood can only receive type O blood donations).
Why Should I Know my Blood Type?
If you know your blood type, you can find more specialized blood donor programs that can compensate you for your time and use your blood for advancements in medical studies. For instance, at Key Biologics (A Cellero Company), there is always a demand for more A+ and O+ male blood donors.
Interested in making a valuable contribution to the medical field by donating your blood or plasma? Get in touch with us to see how you can help.