General Science Bullet – All you need to know about Blood Groups – Capsule 1

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Knowledge of blood groups is of crucial importance in the field of medical science. The series will cover various topics, the first being discovery of blood groups and the various type of blood groups.

Discovery of Blood groups

ABO system: The popular ABO blood group system was discovered by an Austrian biologist and physician, Karl Landsteiner in 1900-1901 in the University of Vienna while finding the cause for sudden deaths of patients during blood transfusion. This system is based on the presence or absence of specific antigens on the surface of red blood cells (RBCs). Based on his research findings, the first successful blood transfusion was performed in the year 1907.

Rh factor – another important blood group system: Rh factor (D-antigen) is essential for classification of blood groups. This was also discovered by Landsteiner in 1940 during an experiment of the reaction of blood serum of a Rhesus monkey, using the latter’s RBCs (hence the name) with human RBCs. Today the Rh factor is an important factor to be considered before blood transfusions.

Classification of blood groups

There are four principal types of blood groups, namely A, B, AB and O. The presence/absence of the two antigens and two antibodies forms the basis of classification. Absence/presence of Rh factor or D-antigen on the surface of every RBC is also considered. These classification systems are individually inherited yet linked with each other. Thus, it gives rise to eight types of blood groups, namely A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ and O-.

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