An easy lesson in blood transfusion goes like this - I have Type B blood. If I am in an accident and need a transfusion, the doctor cannot give me blood from a Type A donor. My body would reject it, causing my red blood cells to clot. On the bright side, as long as there is Type B or Type O blood available then I will survive.
This goes for the Type A people. They need A or O donors. Type AB people need AB or O donors. Do you see a pattern here? Everyone can accept Type O blood. Ever heard the term universal donor? Well, that's the Type O person and they become very valuable resources to the local Red Cross or United Blood Services blood bank. Once a Type O person donates a pint of blood, they can expect a regular call asking for donations.
This is because most of us don't donate and the numbers of us that do donate are dwindling. Enter ZymeQuest, a biomedical company from Beverly, Massachusetts, to save the day. A team of scientists have developed a method to remove the identifying antigens from red blood cells, rendering every red blood cell Type O.
Once upon a time, I was a registered Medical Technologist. This is so fascinating to me because I remember toiling over vials of blood, adding reagents one after another, watching closely for clotting, and the stress I felt wondering if I'd performed the tests correctly. If I didn't, someone might die for my mistake.
Please understand that this new technology does not diminsh the need for blood donation. Blood banks will still need a steady stream of willing donors but they will be able to use their resources more efficiently and effectively to pass on our selfless gift of life.
God bless those who donate regularly. I'm sure the soliders in Iraq thank you and the families of accident victim thank you. We should consider it a civic duty to donate at least one pint a year. If we all did just that much....think about what it would mean to those in need.