Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Blood Types

Learning about blood types can be a bit confusing at first.

But the concept of blood types is important for several reasons:

  • Blood typing is used frequently in clinical medicine because the use of blood transfusions is common, and therefore so is blood banking and related activities.

  • Knowing one's own blood type is important for future medical procedures—perhaps even a life-threatening emergency.

  • Concepts of blood typing carry over into other types of tissue typing—a concept useful in transplant medicine.

  • Blood typing is a great introduction to basic concepts of immunology (something you'll be coming to soon in your A&P course) like antigens, antibodies, agglutination reactions, self vs. nonself, and more.

  • It's just one of those things you have to learn in A&P.  Trust us, we know this will be useful to you later on—even if you don't think so now.

Here's a great video that lays out the essential concepts very briefly—in an easy-to-understand way. Sometimes, an explanation that's a bit different than that in your textbook or class discussion helps a new concept "click" in your brain.

Watch the brief video What are Blood Types:

One brief note: the video states that antigens are proteins.  That's often true.  But in blood typing, the A and B antigens are actually sugars.  The Rh antigens are proteins.  Not a big deal—they were trying to keep it simple for you.

Here's a copy of the chart of ABO blood types used in the video.  You may want to copy-and-paste it into your class notes to supplement your learning resources.

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Here's a chart showing donor-recipient compatibility for the ABO-Rh combined typing system.

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