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What Happens If You Get The Wrong Blood Type

by Annabel Caldwell
What Happens If You Get The Wrong Blood Type

What Happens If You Get The Wrong Blood Type

Hemolytic transfusion reactions can cause the most serious problems, but these are rare. These reactions can occur when your ABO or Rh blood type and that of the transfused blood do not match. If this happens, your immune system attacks the transfused red blood cells. This can be life-threatening.

In a typical hospital emergency room, doctors may need to give you a shot of something called Rho(D) Immune Globulin (Rh IG). It’s an antibody that protects against hemolytic transfusion reaction (HTR), which is basically an attack on the body’s own blood by the recipient’s immune system. HTRs are usually caused by incompatibility between the donor’s blood and the patient’s blood – either because they’re incompatible at all, or because their blood types don’t match.
An example would be if someone with O negative blood were given someone else’s B positive blood. The former’s antibodies could attack the latter’s red blood cells as they try to get into the bloodstream. They’d destroy them in short order.
This article will tell you what happens if you’ve got the wrong blood type for a person who needs blood.
Blood Types And Their Meanings
There are four main blood types: A, B, AB and O. There are also some rarer ones like D, E, C, etc., but we’ll stick with the common ones for now. Each one has its own characteristics and uses. For instance, type A blood is used almost exclusively for transfusions. People with type A blood have antigens specific to type A blood. That means any other blood type will trigger a response from those people’s immune systems. When it comes to transfusing blood, there are certain blood products that should only come from donors with matching blood types. So if I’m having surgery and need type O blood, then I want my surgeon to use type O blood.
The same goes for platelets. Platelets are small particles found inside blood vessels that help stop bleeding. In general, platelet donations are pooled to ensure that enough exists; however, if two people both needed platelets, the blood banks wouldn’t accept each other’s donated platelets. They wouldn’t know whether the blood was safe for transfusion, so they’d reject it. But if one of those people had type O blood while the other didn’t, the bank would still refuse to take his platelets.
Types B and AB blood are less commonly used than type O, although they’re important too. People with type B blood tend to have weaker immunity to infections than people with type O, since their bodies produce relatively fewer natural killer cells.
ABO blood types differ slightly from blood type numbers. Instead of using letters, scientists assign numerical values based on how many different proteins are present in the blood. Type 1 is considered “universal,” meaning it contains all possible combinations of antigens. For instance, if you had type O blood, you’d have no problem receiving blood from an AB blood type. However, if you had type B blood, you might have trouble getting blood from someone with type A blood.
Alloimmunization Is What Happens When Your Own Blood Attacks
When you receive blood or blood components, your immune system tries to identify foreign substances. Once it figures out where the substance came from, your white blood cell count increases. Sometimes, the immune system gets confused about the source of the foreign material and begins attacking its own healthy cells. This is known as alloimmunization. Alloimmunization isn’t always fatal, but it can sometimes lead to severe complications.
If you think you’ve been affected by an alloimmune reaction, contact your doctor immediately. He or she may prescribe medications such as steroids to suppress your immune system, and even antibiotics to prevent infection.
Transfusion Reaction Symptoms
A hemolytic transfusion reaction occurs when the recipient’s blood destroys another person’s blood cells. Most often, it’s due to incompatibility between the blood type of the recipient and the blood type of the transfused blood. Transfusion reactions happen very rarely, though — anywhere from 2 percent to 4 percent of patients undergoing major surgeries and procedures experience a mild form of a hemolytic transfusion reaction. Hemolytic reactions are classified as minor or severe depending on the severity of symptoms. Some examples include:
Tachycardia (an increased heart rate)




Chest pain




Shortness of breath




Loss of consciousness

Risks Associated With Specific Blood Types
Here are some risks associated with specific blood types:
Type A blood tends to be more aggressive than other blood types. This is probably due to higher levels of complement proteins. Complement proteins act as enzymes that break down bacteria. It seems that people with type A blood may produce more complement proteins than others, allowing them to fight off infections better. This makes type A blood seem like a good choice for donating plasma, which is a process where blood is separated through centrifugation into various parts, including plasma and platelets. Plasma can later be reassembled back into whole blood. Plasma donation is extremely dangerous, though, because you can transmit HIV and hepatitis viruses via contaminated blood. Type A individuals are therefore encouraged to practice safer sex after donating plasma.
People with type B blood are far less likely to develop AIDS than those with type O blood. This is probably because their bodies make more natural killer cells, which are responsible for fighting off virus-infected cells. Also, type B blood produces high levels of IgM, an antibody that fights infection. Since IgM doesn’t last long once produced, it suggests that type B individuals may actually produce more natural killer cells than others.
You’re much less likely to contract malaria from type B blood compared to type O blood. This is because type B blood takes longer to clot than type O, making it harder for parasites to survive and multiply. Of course, none of us are completely protected from disease, but this does mean that type B blood carries a lower risk of transmitting illnesses.
Type AB blood is thought to carry the lowest risk of transmission. This is probably due to lower levels of complement proteins than type O blood. People with type AB blood also seem to produce more IgG, another antibody that helps fight off diseases.
Since blood typing is done primarily using surface markers rather than genetic markers, there’s a chance that you won’t find out your blood type until months after birth. If you were born without knowing your blood type, ask your parents’ medical professionals for more information.
Your chances of dying in a car accident depend largely on your blood type. Type O blood carries the highest risk of death in automobile accidents, followed by type A blood. Type B blood carries the least risk of death in auto accidents.

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