Blood Types: Whats a Universal Donor?
Approximately 118.54 million blood donations are collected globally annually. 40% of these donations are from high-income countries, like the United States. Blood transfusions are an essential part of life-saving situations. The global supply relies on the goodwill of donors who are either voluntary and unpaid, family members, or paid for their donation. But what is a universal donor?
If you’re interested in saving a life, keep reading. We’ll explain everything you need to know about donating blood and universal blood types.
What are Universal Donors and Recipients?
When looking at a universal donor, there are three primary blood types. They are the following:
1. Universal Donor Blood Type
People with blood type O- (O negative) are considered universal donors. This blood type is like liquid gold to blood banks because their red blood cells can be given to any other blood type. This means that in situations where the recipient’s blood type is unknown, doctors can use O- blood type in a blood transfusion.
2. Universal Plasma Donor Blood Type
Plasma is slightly different from a universal donor situation, and to be considered a universal plasma donor type, you need to be type AB- (AB negative). This is because universal plasma donors can supply plasma to all the other blood types.
3. Universal Recipient Blood Type
Like a universal blood donor, you also get a universal recipient. Universal recipients are people with blood type AB+ (AB positive). Being a universal recipient means you can receive blood donations from any other blood type.
What Are Blood Groups and Types?
Blood groups are determined by the DNA you inherit from your parents. There are four primary blood groups, also called types of blood. These four blood groups are:
1. Group A
This blood group contains A antigen in the red blood cells. In addition, the plasma contains the antibody anti-B. As its name suggests, this antibody attacks any blood cells containing B antigen.
2. Group B
This blood group contains B antigen in the red blood cells. In addition, the plasma contains the antibody anti-A. As its name suggests, this antibody attacks any blood cells containing A antigen.
3. Group O
This blood group contains both antibodies, anti-A and -B. However, the red blood cells don’t have any A or B antigens. Because of this, patients with the blood type AB can receive all blood types ABO.
4. Group AB
This blood group contains both antigens A and B. However, the difference is that the plasma doesn’t have anti-A or -B antibodies. Patients with blood type A, B, or O can receive O blood type donations.
There are several blood types within these blood groups, and they are either RhD-negative or RhD-positive. Therefore, medical practitioners must supply the victim with a compatible blood type when someone has had a severe accident and requires a life-saving blood transfusion.
There are eight blood types, and they are the following:
- A- (A negative)
- A+ (A positive)
- B+ (B positive)
- B- (B negative)
- AB- (AB negative)
- AB+ (AB positive)
- O+ (O positive)
- O- (O negative)
Why Is Type 0 Negative Special?
When the blood type of the emergency patient is unknown to the attending doctors, blood type O can come to the rescue. This is the only blood type that is safe to use in this manner.
But what males type O negative special? Type O-negative blood lacks antigens that the other blood types have. This means it won’t trigger any immune responses regardless of the patient’s blood type. This lack of immune responses makes this blood type so sought after, but, unfortunately, there isn’t an excess of stock.
What Are Antigens?
If type O negative blood type contains no antigens, what are antigens? This explanation starts relatively simple. Blood types A and B have A and B antigens, respectively. Blood type AB has both; as we explained, O negative blood type has none.
Along with A and B antigens, blood is also classified by the Rh factor. This classification is based on the presence of the Rh factor. As we explained before, blood types that don’t have the Rh factor are called Rh negative, and blood types with the Rh factor are Rh positive. This Rh factor further splits the blood types into eight (A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+, and O-).
Our Immune System’s Response
As we know, our immune system is there to protect us from maladies like viruses and bacteria. However, while our immune system knows our own blood’s antigens, it will attack any antigens it detects from a different blood type. For this reason, doctors have to transfuse the correctly matched blood type or risk the body rejecting the transfusion, which can be fatal.
Do I Have a Universal Blood Type?
According to research, the most common blood type is O+, with 37% of the American population having this blood type. Because this blood type is so common, it’s always in high demand. Unfortunately, O+ blood can’t be used universally because it’s Rh-positive. However, it is compatible with positive blood types A+, B+, AB+, and O+.
O-negative blood type is considered rare, with only a fraction of the population having this universal blood type. If you have O-negative blood, it’s highly encouraged that you visit your local blood donation clinic and donate your blood, platelets, or plasma. Unfortunately, not enough people donate blood, with only 3% of US citizens doing so yearly.
Find Out Your Blood Type and Donate Blood Today
Donating blood can save lives and is desperately needed by hospitals and blood banks around the country. It’s not challenging to donate blood; you just have to meet a few criteria to be eligible. Donating blood doesn’t take long and can be done in an afternoon. If you are a universal donor, your blood is desperately wanted, so please consider donating or continue donating if you already do.
If you’re looking for blood testing services, please contact us today. We proudly offer flexible and customizable service options for all our clients and have highly-qualified phlebotomists waiting to help.