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#17 Blood Transfusions: Why it matters: ABO and Rh blood types

Working in surgery, blood transfusions become something I see on a regular basis, especially during traumas. A blood transfusion is a routine medical procedure that is lifesaving, in which donated blood is provided. People receive blood transfusions for many reasons and they usually occur without any complications. It’s a way of adding blood and blood products after some illnesses or injuries.

Blood banks screen donors and test donated blood to prevent the risk of transfusion related infections, so infections such as HIV and Hepatitis b and c, are extremely rare. Although blood transfusion is a life saving maneuver, there are some potential risk factors as well. The most common risk is an allergic reaction, which might cause hives, itching and fever. Other serious reactions may include acute immune hemolytic reaction, delayed hemolytic reaction and graft-virus-host disease, all are very rare. 

The ABO system is regarded as the most important blood-group system in transfusion medicine because of severe hemolytic transfusion reactions. ABO has four principle types; A, B, O, and AB. Individuals with type O do not produce ABO antigens, therefore, their blood normally will not be rejected when it is given to others with different ABO types. So basically, type O people are universal donors for transfusions, but they can only receive type O blood.

Rh factor is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells, this blood group may be the most complex genetically of the blood type systems since it involves 45 different antigens. Rh can affect pregnant women, your pregnancy needs special care if you’re Rh negative and your baby is Rh positive (Rh compatibility). A baby can inherit the Rh factor from either parent.

In conclusion, we can say that blood transfusion is a very important lifesaving procedure but it can come with rare complications, which is why checking blood before giving it is a very important task to ensure the right type is being distributed.

work cited:

(n.d.). Retreived from

Balentine, J. R. (2018, July 3). What is a Blood Transfusion? Risks, Procedure, Side Effects.

           Retrieved from

Blood Transfusion. (2017, August 1). Retrieved from          transfusion/about/pac- 20385168

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019, February 15). ABO blood group system. Retrieved from

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