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Blood Donation Basics
15 Jun 2021
Blood is the fluid in your body that transport oxygen and nutrients to your cells. It also carries away carbon dioxide and other waste products. It makes up approximately 7% of body weight. Blood is pumped through the heart to all parts of your body, at an average speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour, then returns and starts again. The cells contained in blood (red cells, platelets and white blood cells) are suspended in a liquid called plasma.
If blood stops circulating, death will occur within minutes. Since blood is such a vital part of who we are, it’s surprising that only 57% of the population know their blood type. Do you know yours?
What are blood types and why are they important?
A blood type is how blood is classified based on the presence or absence of certain antigens on the surface of red blood cells. The two antigens that determine type are called A and B. When just the A antigen is on the blood cell, that creates blood type A. Same is true for the B antigen and blood type B. When both are present, that is called blood type AB, and when neither are present it’s called blood type O.
There is also a protein called the Rh factor which, if present, is positive (+) and if not, it’s negative (-). Combining the A and B antigen and the Rh factor creates the 8 most common blood types—A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, AB-. Discover how common or rare each blood type is.
You do not need to know your blood type to donate blood, but one of the many benefits of donating blood is that you will learn your blood type.
Why do I need to know what my blood type is?
Knowing your blood type is vital if you ever need a blood transfusion. Your blood type and Rh factor need to be compatible with the blood you receive. If you were to receive the incorrect blood type, your body might "attack" the new blood, thinking it's a foreign invader, and cause you to become very ill. So, your doctors would need to be certain you receive blood with a compatible blood type.
The chart below outlines which blood types are compatible with the others.
Is there anything special about my blood type?
Common or rare, every blood type is unique and special.
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Ready to donate, but unsure if you qualify? Or maybe you’ve been deferred in the past — but that doesn’t necessarily mean you still can’t donate. View our most up-to-date eligibility requirements.
Then, use any donate button to schedule an appointment.