Blood types explained

Blood types vary, but all can save a life.
Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:06 PM EST
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Not all blood types are alike. Kathy McCarty has more on what makes them different and which is most common.

There are four blood types: A, B, AB together, and O, which can be either positive or negative, depending on the Rh factor.

“You want to receive the same blood type that your blood type is. If you don’t, the blood - the blood types will interact with each other and could cause even death. So it is very serious and important to have your blood typed by a lab, like a hospital lab, before you receive any blood,” says Dr. Roger Pelli, Chief Medical Information Officer for Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital.

The Rh part, positive or negative, has to do with certain antigens, which are proteins on the blood cell, explains Dr. Roger Pelli, of Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital.

Dr. Pelli says, “The O negative blood is considered the universal donor. So if somebody is coming in by ambulance from a motor vehicle accident or any other accident that caused, say, internal bleeding and they are likely to need blood. Well, we don’t have their blood so we can’t type and cross-match them ahead of time. So we have O negative blood on hand in the emergency department when that person arrives. And if they need blood, that’s what they get.”

Dr. Pelli says AB blood is pretty rare in the United States, while O positive is the most common. While some religions are opposed to blood transfusions, he says in most cases it can be lifesaving.

“If you don’t need to receive blood, you shouldn’t. But if you have to receive it, then based on your religious beliefs, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, then you would have to go by what your religion dictates and what you believe. But other than that, it’s being prescribed for you like a medicine that in many cases will save your life,” says Dr. Pelli.

Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

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