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The Science Behind Blood Types

Cover Design by Ananya.

Blood cell 1: Would you like to go out with me sometime?

Blood cell 2: Sorry, you're just not my type!

As disheartening as that may sound, it's probably for the better! Blood is segregated into different groups called blood types. You've probably heard of donating blood to blood banks or hospitals to save someone's life. But, in surgery, blood can't be transferred if the donor and the patient have different blood types. But why is this not possible? And why do people have different blood types in the first case? Well, that's what we'll be finding out today!

The 'Why':

There are four different blood types; Type A, B, AB, and O. In order to fight diseases, viruses, and other illnesses, your white blood cells create antibodies. Life Noggin mentions that, "the antibody attaches itself to the antigen (or bad bacteria/germ)." When it does this, you are prevented from getting sick. But, the antigen's role doesn't stop there! Red blood cells (constituents of blood, they deliver oxygen and other nutrients to other cells in the body) have millions of antigens. But, your immune system doesn't react to these antigens.

Your blood type is determined by the type of antigens you have in your red blood cells. If you have type AB blood, you have both A and B antigens. Having Type A blood means that you have A antigens, also known as anti-B antigens. Having neither A nor B antigens defines you as Type O blood.

But what about blood types like A+ blood or B- blood? Well, the positive and negative signs have a purpose! A positive, or plus sign means that you have another type of antigen in your blood, Rh antigen. A negative, or minus sign means that you do not have Rh antigen in your blood.


Why is it that you can only transfer blood to others within your blood type? Well, according to, "if blood from a type-A donor were given to a person with type-B, the recipient's immune system would recognize the foreign sugars." In other words, if blood with different antigens than the blood recipient's were transferred, they would be seen as an enemy instead of a friend. So, with this belief instilled, your body would start to attack the blood cells. Of course, if this happens, the blood transferal will be unsuccessful.

Blood is extremely important. It powers our body and nourishes our cells. No wonder vampires love it! Though it's sometimes scary to look at, especially in TV action movies, we should remember that blood isn't always a bad thing! (But please don't look at your blood like you want to be it's best friend the next time you bleed.)







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