There are four types of blood: A, B, AB and O. While AB can receive blood transfusions from all other types, O is a universal donor, meaning that their blood can be used for anyone else for a transfusion.
However, what is the difference between Rh-positive and Rh-negative blood types and does this play a role in blood donations?
Read on to find out the key facts about Rh-negative blood types.
Rh-Negative Blood Type Facts
1. Rh-negative blood is in short supply
Each blood type has Rh-positive and Rh-negative types, but the Rh-negative blood type is the least available for transfusions.
This is especially critical as Rh-negative blood types can only receive from other Rh-negative.
2. People with Rh-negative blood types are ideal for donating platelets
Platelets are small, disc-shaped cells that help with blood clotting. They can be separated from the rest of a blood donation, or you can donate platelets directly by connecting to a machine which does this for you and returns the red blood cells and plasma into your body.
Platelets are important for cancer patients, organ recipients, or people undergoing heart surgery.
If you have Rh-negative blood type, your platelets are in high demand. As a result, people with Rh-negative blood type are strongly urged to donate blood or just platelets, depending on what is more easily done where you are, an interesting fact about Rh-negative blood type.
3. Type O-negative is the rarest blood
Of all blood donations, there is the least of O-negative blood. This is a type of blood which can be given to anyone, but, unfortunately, it’s in short supply.
Because of its versatility, ambulances and emergency response vehicles have O-negative blood with them at all times. This contributes to the short supply, since it will be the one most frequently used.
4. People with A-negative blood are universal platelet donors
1 in 13 donors is A-negative, but what’s most important is that everyone can receive platelets from an A-negative donor. So, while the blood from an A-negative donor can be used with 40% of people, the platelets can help anyone in an emergency.
5. B-negative is a very rare blood donation
Only c. 2% of blood donors have B-negative blood type. This makes it very rare for use in emergencies and blood transfusions in hospitals. With B-negative blood, the following groups can benefit from a transfusion:
- B-negative and B-positive;
- AB-negative and AB-positive.
It is tough to find new donors, so if you are a B-negative blood type, it’s essential to give blood to support others.
6. AB-negative is the rarest blood type
Only 1% of blood donors have AB-negative type, a fun fact about Rh-negative blood type.
It is also the type of blood from which plasma can help patients of all blood types. Interestingly, fresh frozen plasma can only be produced from male donations. This is because female donors can have antibodies that may prove dangerous to patients who receive their plasma donations (even though these antibodies will have no effect on the donor themselves).
7. People with Rh-negative blood types tend to suffer with mental issues more
It appears that people with negative blood types are more at risk of developing mental health issues. A study conducted in the US in 2015 found that men in particular often reported mental health disorders including panic, antisocial personality, and attention deficits.
8. Rh-negative people may have more allergies
An interesting fact about Rh-negative blood types suggests that people with these blood types may have more skin allergies. This was found in the same study as the one looking at mental health.
9. Rh factors can cause issues during pregnancy
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, if a woman has Rh-negative blood type but her fetus is Rh-positive, then an Rh incompatibility arises which can cause complications during pregnancy. If the blood of the fetus somehow mixes with the mother’s, the body will know it’s not her own blood and will fight against as it’s a foreign entity. The Rh antibodies which are subsequently created can cross the placenta and “attack” the fetus’ blood, leading to health problems and the risk of even death of the fetus or the newborn baby.
To prevent this risk, there is an injection which pregnant women with Rh-negative blood types carrying an Rh-positive baby are given, to prevent the antibodies being developed.
10. Rh-negative blood types are extremely rare and decreasing
Across the world, there are approximately 6% of people with Rh-negative blood types in total. Moreover, a study concluded that this percentage is likely to fall even more because of low population growth in Europe, where it is more prevalent. For example, Europeans on average are 16% Rh-negative, while Asian people such as Korean and Japanese have less than 1% of the population with Rh-negative blood types, an interesting fact about Rh-negative blood types.
11. If both parents have Rh-negative blood type, so will the child
There is a link between parents’ blood types and their children’s. If both parents are Rh-negative, the child will definitely also be Rh-negative. Otherwise, combinations may lead to either negative or positive blood types.
12. A few celebrities share a rare blood type
What do Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Paul McCartney have in common? They all have the very rare blood type of B-negative. It’s been claimed that this gives them stronger psychic and healing abilities and more compassion, a fun fact about Rh-negative blood.
Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain also has a negative blood type – O. So did John Lennon, while Mick Jagger is known to be AB-negative. Other famous names with negative blood types include Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley.
When they discovered the Rhesus blood type, or Rh factor, in 1937, Karl Landsteiner and Alexander Wiener named it after the Rhesus monkey because it also carries this gene. The Rhesus protein lives on the surface of red blood cells and can give us some interesting influences, but the most important has been understanding the risks of different Rh factors during pregnancy. And here you have some key facts about Rh-negative blood types and how they affect us.
I hope that this article on Rh-negative blood type facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Health Facts Page!