Blood Groups, Blood Typing, Blood Transfusion And Blood Bank

Mixing blood from two individuals can lead to blood clumping or agglutination. The clumped red cells can crack and cause toxic reactions. This can have fatal consequences. It was discovered that blood clumping was an immunological reaction which occurs when the receiver of a blood transfusion has antibodies against the donor blood cells.

What Are The Different Blood Groups?

The differences in human blood are due to the presence or absence of certain protein molecules called antigens and antibodies. The antigens are located on the surface of red blood cells and the antibodies are in the blood plasma. Individuals have different types and combinations of these molecules.

There are more than 20 blood group systems, but the ABO and Rh systems are the most important ones used for blood transfusions. Not all blood groups are compatible with each other. Mixing incompatible blood groups lead to blood clumping or agglutination, which is dangerous for individuals.

ABO Blood Grouping System

According to ABO blood typing system, there are four different kinds of blood types: A, B, AB or O (null).

Blood Group A

Blood group A has A antigens on the surface of red blood cells and B antibodies in blood plasma.

Blood Group B

Blood group B, has B antigens on the surface of red blood cells and A antibodies in blood plasma.

Blood Group AB

Blood Group AB, has both A and B antigens on the surface of red blood cells and no A or B antibodies at all in blood plasma.

Blood Group O

Blood group O (null), has neither A nor B antigens on the surface of red blood cells but has both A and B antibodies in blood plasma.

Rh Factor Blood Grouping System

Many people also have a so called Rh factor on the red blood cell's surface. This is also an antigen and those who have it are called Rh+. A person with Rh- blood does not have Rh antibodies naturally in the blood plasma (as one can have A or B antibodies, for instance).

But a person with Rh- blood can develop Rh antibodies in the blood plasma if he or she receives blood from a person with Rh+ blood, whose Rh antigens can trigger the production of Rh antibodies. A person with Rh+ blood can receive blood from a person with Rh- blood without any problems.

How To Do Blood Typing

1. You mix the blood with three different reagents including either of the three different antibodies, A, B or Rh antibodies.

2. In which mixtures has agglutination occurred? Agglutination indicates that the blood has reacted with a certain antibody and therefore is not compatible with blood containing that kind of antibody. If the blood does not agglutinate, it indicates that the blood does not have the antigens binding the special antibody in the reagent.

3. If you know which antigens are in the person's blood, it is easy to figure out which blood group he or she belongs.

Blood Clumps Or Agglutinates

For a blood transfusion to be successful, ABO and Rh blood groups must be compatible.

If not, the red cells from the donated blood will clump or agglutinate. The agglutinated red cells can block blood vessels and stop the circulation of the blood.

The agglutinated red cells also crack and its contents leak out in the body. The red blood cells contain hemoglobin which becomes toxic when outside the cell. This can have fatal consequences for the patient.

Blood Transfusion

The transfusion will work if a person who is going to receive blood has a blood group that doesn't have any antibodies against the donor blood's antigens. But if a person who is going to receive blood has antibodies matching the donor blood's antigens, the red blood cells in the donated blood will clump.

Blood Bank

Site or mobile unit for collecting, processing, typing, and storing whole blood, blood plasma and other blood constituents. Whole blood may be preserved for up to 21 days without losing its usefulness. In blood transfusions an anticoagulant is added to prevent blood clotting. Blood plasma, may be frozen and/or dried and stored indefinitely.

Blood and donors are screened for hepatitis, AIDS, malaria, and other infectious diseases. The potential risk of acquiring AIDS or hepatitis through transfusions has made it a common practice among patients anticipating surgery to "bank" their own blood before it is needed.

Many blood banks also have facilities for apheresis (blood separated into compartments), bone marrow donations, and related procedures. some centers save umbilical cord blood (blood that is especially rich in stem cells) for use in treatments.

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