If you need a transfusion, health practitioners at your healthcare facility will determine your blood type before they give you any blood. The only time you would not get a blood type test is in an extreme emergency and there is not enough time to type your blood. In this case, you would receive group O since this blood type does not have any A or B antigens that can potentially cause a hemolytic transfusion reaction. The use of Rh-negative blood depends upon the situation and the supply of O negative blood in the area.
Universal blood donors have type O, Rh negative blood. This means they have no A or B antigens or Rh factor on their red blood cells to which the recipient's antibodies can react. Recipients of their red blood cells have little risk of a hemolytic transfusion reaction due to ABO or Rh incompatibility.
Universal recipients have type AB, Rh positive blood. They recognize A, B and Rh antigens as "self" and can receive red blood cells of any ABO or Rh type with no risk of a serious hemolytic transfusion reaction due to ABO or Rh incompatibility.
3. Besides ABO and Rh, are there other types of red blood cell antigens?
Yes, numerous other antigens can be present on the surface of red blood cells. These minor RBC blood group antigens include, for example, Kell, Kidd, Duffy, and other Rh antigens. The body does not produce antibodies to these antigens unless it is exposed to these antigens through blood transfusion or during pregnancy. These antibodies are not detected during routine blood typing but may be found with an RBC antibody screen. For more on these antigens and antibodies, see the article on RBC Antibody Identification.
This article was last reviewed on November 19, 2014. | This article was last modified on December 16, 2015.
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