This article first appeared in the Rushville Republican on October 25, 2019.
Knowing your blood type is a key part of understanding your own body. If you don’t know what yours is, stop by the RMH Lab located beside the Imaging Department on Oct. 30 and have your blood drawn. No referral or appointment is required. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $20 paid in cash or with a credit card.
To get your blood typed, enter the hospital by the Admissions Department and follow the signs. After your blood is drawn, you can opt to have the results sent to you in the mail or you can register for the patient portal and view your test results in 24 to 48 hours.
Every two seconds someone in the US needs blood. That’s 30 blood transfusions a minute or 43,200 a day. There are many different reasons people need blood. Traumatic injuries from a car wreck can cause massive blood loss. Diseases such as sickle cell anemia or cancer can create the need for extra blood. A patient who starts bleeding during surgery may require transfusions.
Unfortunately, there is no substitute for human blood. It can’t be made in factory or mixed in a lab. It can only come from thousands of donations made by people who care.
To make the matters more difficult, there is not just one kind of blood. There are four main kinds, called blood types. They are: A, B, AB and O. Each of these blood types can be either positive or negative, depending on whether or not their red blood cells contain the RH factor protein.
When someone is given a transfusion, the new blood that enters their veins mixes with the patient’s own blood. If a patient is given the wrong type of blood, when the new blood mixes with the patient’s blood, the mixture can clot or stick together in tiny lumps. If this happens, it can be fatal. Fortunately, in the U.S., giving the wrong blood type to a patient is so rare that it happens less than once in 250,000 cases.
Given the great need for blood, it isn’t surprising that supplies sometimes run low. This can happen when there is an unusually high level of need. It can also happen when donations are down. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to donate blood. Some people are too old or too young, some have health conditions that weaken them, some carry contagious diseases and some people take medications that prevent them from donating.
Sometimes only the supply of a particular blood type runs low. When this happens, a blood drive is held specifically to collect that particular type of blood. If a person wants to donate blood to this type of blood drive, the donor needs to know his or her blood type. Unfortunately, many people have no idea what type of blood they have. This is one of the main reasons RMH is offering individuals the opportunity to learn their blood type.
Donating blood and satisfying your curiosity aren’t the only reasons to test for blood type and the presence or absence of the RH Factor protein.
If a woman is pregnant, her healthcare provider will check her blood to see if it is RH negative or RH positive. If the mother is RH negative and the father is RH positive, the baby may have RH positive blood. This can cause health problems for both the baby and the mother if left untreated. Checking a mother’s blood type is a routine part of obstetrical care.
When patients have surgery, knowing their blood type allows the hospital to make sure the right type of blood is on hand if a transfusion is needed.
If you don’t know what your blood type is, stop by the RMH Lab located beside the Imaging Department on Oct. 30 and have your blood drawn. In a couple of days, you’ll know your own body better and be more prepared to give blood should the need arise.