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Blood Groups and Transfusions

When Europeansfirst experimented with blood transfusions in the 17th century, so many patients
died that the procedure was outlawed in England, France and Italy. It is said that the Incas in
South America began transfusing blood much earlier, and that fewer deaths resulted. If so, the
reason, not understood at the time, may have been that nearly all of the Incas belonged to the
same blood type, while the Europeans, like most groups of people, belonged to different and
incompatible types. Today, blood transfusion is safe only because blood samples from the donor
and recipient are tested to ensure that no dangerous transfusion reaction can occur from the
In the ABO system, human blood is classified into four types: A, B, AB, and O. If your blood is
type A, your red blood cells carry a protein called Antigen A and your plasma, a protein called
antibody b. If you are type B, your blood contains antigen B and antibody a. Blood type AB
carries both antigens but no antibody, while type O blood has neither of the antigens but both of
These categories are important in transfusion because certain antigens and antibodies are hostile
to each other. Shaped so that they can lock together, mutually hostile antigens and antibodies
adhere in clumps that can cause fatal blood-vessel blockages.
Generally, people with type A blood can safely receive blood from A's and O's, while type B
recipients are safe with blood from B's and O's. People whose blood types is AB are known as
universal recipients, because their blood is compatible with types AB, A, B and O. Type O people,
on the other hand, are safe only with blood from type O donors, but they are themselves so-called
universal donors, because they can give blood to anyone.
In a routine count the blood's basic components, red cells, hemoglobin, whil

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