Knowledge about your blood type seems trivial – yet, few of you know it. Knowing your blood type carries tremendous benefits, from saving your life to that of others. Most people fear needles and are thus reluctant to have their blood typed. Others are ignorant about the whole ordeal. And the rest of you are busy until you or your loved ones require a blood transfusion. Today, let’s discuss the rationale for knowing your blood type. By the end of the article, you should not only be inspired to find it out but also be able to donate blood to help those in need of it.
In the general sense, you can either be blood type A, B, AB, or O. however, several factors determine the group you will have. First, you inherit specific protein-sugar molecules from your parents. These molecules coat the surfaces of your red blood cells – the cells that carry oxygen around the body. We term these molecules antigens. So, if your red blood cells coat antigen A, your blood type becomes A: antigen B for blood type B, antigens A and B for blood group AB. And if your red blood cells do not carry any antigen onto their surfaces, your blood group becomes O. Blood type O is the most abundant type.
For those who have been at hospitals or donated blood, you often hear a rant about positive and negative blood. Well, we call it the Rhesus factor. tI is another antigen that helps us further qualify your blood type – say, if it is present and you are blood group A, you become A Rhesus D positive, or simply, A-positive. Its absence qualifies you as A-negative. Most people are Rhesus D positive. The significance of this unveils itself on two occasions – blood transfusion and pregnancy.
Now that you’ve had a preamble about blood types: let’s understand why it’s prudent to know your blood group.
Globally, clinicians collect about 118.5 million blood units annually. It becomes more prudent than ever that you know your blood type to save a life through relentless blood donation.
Safety. None of you has coined an agreement with diseases and emergencies that you won’t get any. Knowing your blood group increases the chances of survival in case you have an emergency – say, an accident which requires a blood transfusion. When clinicians know your blood type, they will transfuse you with compatible blood. On the contrarily, you may get another blood group that may cause a massive breakdown of your other blood cells – you may die. Also, there are proteins whose concentrations we can predict by knowing your blood type, e.g., von Willebrand disease.
Humanitarian reasons. Perhaps, the most important reason is to donate blood. Every one minute, thirty people require a blood transfusion. Globally, clinicians collect about 118.5 million blood units annually. It becomes more prudent than ever that you know your blood type to save a life through relentless blood donation. Clinicians need blood daily, especially in obstetrics, where mothers are likely to require a few units following childbirth due to postpartum haemorrhage.
Pregnancy wellness. At the very least, every woman of childbearing age must know her blood type to enable her to plan for a healthy pregnancy. It is especially crucial when you are rhesus-negative and become pregnant from a rhesus-positive father. If your unborn child (fetus) is rhesus-positive, your body may produce antibodies that can destroy the fetal blood cells – a process we call rhesus incompatibility. Clinicians will monitor you and treat you accordingly to prevent poor pregnancy outcomes.
As you help others through blood donations, you both have a chance to know your health status and the advantage of lowering the risk of a few health ailments. For example, a study from Karolinska Institutet noted that people with certain blood groups are prone to bleeding disorders, blood clots, or kidney stones. Knowledge about your blood type is thus crucial for your survival through deliberations on several lifestyle modifications.
After understanding why you should know your blood group, you must know how to find it. In Uganda, you can do this by visiting a health facility and request for blood typing. It should cost zero coins in a public hospital or between 5000 and 10,000 Uganda shillings in a private facility. You can as well know it free of charge at blood donation campaigns. For pregnant women, it is part of the antenatal care services you must receive.
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