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Blood Donation Basics
18 Jan 2022
Elsewhere in our blog, there’s an article explaining which ABO blood groups are the most rare blood types in the population. Human biology is complex, though, and there are actually hundreds of red cell blood antigens besides ABO and the Rh type (also known as Rh factor, which makes your blood type Rh-positive [Rh+] or Rh-negative [Rh-]).
That means there are more ways you can have a rare blood type. Blood types can be rare because they are missing a blood antigen that 99% of the population has. People can also develop rarer blood – i.e., harder to find a match for – because they may develop antibodies after receiving blood transfusions or induced by pregnancy.
Approximately 345 different blood antigens – yes, you read that right, 345 – have been identified. And scientists are still identifying a few new antigens every year, said Dolores Figueroa, Immunohematology Reference Laboratories (IRL) systems specialist at Vitalant.
For most of us, knowing our ABO blood group and Rh type is enough. But for people born with super rare blood types, and the 3-4% of people who develop antibodies, finding a blood donor with the exact matching blood type can be a matter of life or death. The Vitalant IRL helps find donor blood products that match.
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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.