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ABO…K? Investigating if young females need more than ABO-compatible blood

What is this research about?

Antigens are proteins, sugars and lipids on the surface of cells the immune system uses to distinguish its own cells, tissues and organs from those of another person. Antigens on the surface of red blood cells determine blood type and the most important blood group systems are ABO and Rh. ABO type is determined by the presence or absence of A and B antigens on the surface of red blood cells.

People have antibodies against the ABO blood group antigen they lack on their own cells. For example, people with blood group O have anti-A and anti-B antibodies in their blood. These antibodies can recognize A and B antigens and tag the foreign cells for destruction. So transfusion of A, B, or AB red blood cells to a person with blood group O could lead to destruction of the transfused cells and cause a serious transfusion reaction. For all other antigens, including Rh antigens, people do not normally have antibodies in their blood. However, some people who have been exposed to the foreign antigen by transfusion or pregnancy may have these antibodies.

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