• Some people theorize that Rh-negative blood, which is less common than Rh-positive blood, can be traced back to some supernatural ancestor. Really.
Interesting. But is any of that accurate? I don’t know.
The idea that our blood types matter and tell us something about ourselves intrigues me. The idea we might do well to learn more and to amend our lives based on this biological marker also makes sense.
But first, let’s make sense of blood types.
Professor and pathologist Karl Landsteiner of Vienna discovered in the early 20th century that humans could have bad reactions when receiving blood transfusions from other humans. Landsteiner was a “prosector,” a pathologist who performs autopsies; obviously, these blood reactions had been deadly to his subjects.
Like any good scientist, Landsteiner asked, “Why?” and began to compare and contrast different humans’ blood. Until the late 1800s, most known medical research had only compared animal blood to human blood, so this was a new step.
Ultimately, Landsteiner found and classified in 1909 the four human blood types — A, B, AB and O — and was awarded in 1930 a Nobel Prize for his work. Over the next decades, he worked with others to help further classify what’s today known as the “Rh factor” on blood. If you’re a woman and you’ve ever been pregnant, you know a little something about the Rh factor, especially if you’re Rh negative.
Each human has an ABO and an Rh classification. I’m type O, Rh positive.
The classifications are based on what antigens sit on your red blood cells. Antigens are agents that, when detecting something that doesn’t belong, will develop antibodies — little fightin’ cells — to attack the foreigner. So my O antigens like other O antigens, but if they were to encounter an A antigen, they would start attacking. Same with the Rh antigen.