What is a Blood Type test?
It might seem like blood is blood — it pretty much all looks the same to the naked eye, it contains the same basic components (red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma), and most of us start to freak out if we see too much of it outside our own bodies.
However, because the human body can’t ever be that simple, the blood running through your veins may not be the same as the blood running through your neighbors. This is because not everyone’s blood has the same combination of protein molecules. These varying combinations are what determine your blood type.
The importance of knowing your blood type is to prevent the risk of you receiving an incompatible blood type at a time of need, such as during a blood transfusion or during surgery. If two different blood types are mixed, it can lead to a clumping of blood cells that can be potentially fatal.
But why could this happen?
Remember that there are different combinations of protein molecules in the blood. These protein molecules are called antigens and antibodies. Antigens live on the surface of your red blood cells, while antibodies are in your plasma. These are what can make your blood different from, say, the random person sitting next to you on the bus, and what helps our bodies identify the blood cells that belong in our own system.
There are four ABO antigen markers that determine blood group: A, B, AB, and O.
Some people may also have an additional antigen marker present on the surface of the red blood cell, called the Rh factor. Because each of the four main blood types (A, B, AB, and O) may or may not have the Rh factor present, blood is further classified as either “positive” (meaning it has the Rh factor) or “negative” (without the Rh factor).
Having any of these markers (or none of them) doesn’t make a person’s blood any healthier or stronger. It’s just a genetic difference, like having green eyes instead of blue or straight hair instead of curly.
The Blood Group, RH Type test is used to determine your specific blood type. The presence (or lack thereof) of ABO and Rh antigens will determine the blood type letter and whether it is positive or negative.
The four different blood groups (based on the four ABO antigen markers) are further classified into eight different blood types (based upon the presence of the Rh antigen marker):
- Type A blood (contains the A antigen marker) – this means that the liquid portion of your blood (plasma) has antibodies that will attack type B blood
- Type A-negative (A-) blood – has the A antigen marker only
- 6% of the population
- Type A-positive (A+) blood – has both the A and Rh antigen markers
- 36% of the population
- Type B blood (contains the B antigen marker) – means your plasma antibodies will attack type A blood
- Type B-negative (B-) blood – has the B antigen marker only
- 2% of the population
- Type B-positive (B+) blood – has both the A and Rh antigen markers
- 8% of the population
- Type AB blood (has both A and B antigen markers) – means your plasma does not have antibodies against either type A or type B blood
- Type AB-negative (AB-) blood – has the A and B antigen markers
- 1% of the population
- Type AB-positive (AB+) blood – has the A, B, and Rh antigen markers
- 3% of the population
- Type O blood (has neither the A nor B antigen markers) – means your plasma antibodies will attack both type A and type B blood
- Type O-negative (O-) blood – has no antigen markers at all
- Approx. 7% of the population
- Type O-positive (O+) blood – has the Rh antigen marker only
- 37% of the population
Type O-negative blood does not have any antigens, which makes it compatible for transfusion into patients of all blood types. No antibodies are activated against it, so no other blood type will trigger an attack on it. Because of this property, type O-negative blood is commonly referred to as the “universal donor” blood type.
Type AB-positive blood contains all the antigen markers, which means that it does not have antibodies against any other blood type. Because it will not trigger an attack on any other blood type transfused into it, type AB-positive blood is commonly known as the “universal recipient” blood type.
A blood type test is typically done:
- Before a person gets a blood transfusion
- Before a person donates blood or an organ for transplantation
- Before surgery
- When a woman is planning to become pregnant or first becomes pregnant
It is important to know your blood type! If you don’t know yours, reach out to your doctor (or connect with a doctor here right now!) to book this test.
When will I receive my results?
Once completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How do I prepare? Do I need to fast?
No preparation or fasting required. Just bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.