The Importance of Knowing Your Blood Type

Do you know your blood type? Many people don’t, unless they donate blood regularly or have received an organ donation. But knowing your blood type can be important for many reasons.

First, knowing your blood type can let you know if you are at risk for a variety of health conditions (and other random facts) such as these:

Type A increases risk of stomach cancer

Type O reduces fertility

Type AB, B, and A all increase risk of heart disease

Type AB, A, and B increases risk of blood clots

Type AB increases risk of dementia and memory loss

Type O has the lowest risk of heart disease and stroke

Mosquitoes like Type O blood

Second, knowing your blood type and the type of your significant other can prevent certain pregnancy risks. Knowing whether your blood type is positive or negative (also known as it’s Rh factor) can indicate harmful Rh-incompatibility problems, which is where the mother’s Rh blood type is different from the baby’s.

Knowing your blood type can save your life in an emergency. If something happens and you are in sudden need of a blood transfusion, having your blood type in your medical file could save precious time.

Finally, one of the most valuable reasons to know your blood type is to help others. Every 2 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, and there is no way to get blood and platelets other than through donations from volunteers.

Unfortunately, less than 38 percent of the population is eligible to give blood or platelet donations. This makes it extremely difficult for the blood supply to meet the need. If you are eligible, you can make a huge difference — just 1 donation can potentially save up to 3 lives.

Type O negative red cells can be given to patients of all blood types, yet only 7 percent of Americans are type O negative. Type AB positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all blood types, but only 3 percent of people in the U.S. have AB positive blood. This means if you are in either of those small percentages, your donation can do a great deal to help others in great need.

If your blood type is: You can give to: You can receive from:
O Positive O+, A+, B+, AB+ O+, O-
A Positive A+, AB+ A+, A-, O+, O-
B Positive B+, AB+ B+, B-, O+, O-
AB Positive AB+ Only All blood types
O Negative All blood types O- only
A Negative A-, A+, AB-, AB+ A-, O-
B Negative B-, B+, AB-, AB+ B-, O-
AB Negative AB-, AB+ AB-, A-, B-, O-

The easiest way to find out what blood type you are is through donation, as they perform a blood typing test to classify blood donations. You can find a blood drive near you using the American Red Cross’ locator.