WITHOUT it, the human body would simply stop working.
But not all blood is equal, and in the event of a transfusion it’s important you know what blood type you are, as mixing incompatible blood types can be fatal.
What is the most common blood type?
Blood group O is the most common blood group.
Almost half of the UK population (48 per cent) have this blood type.
Type O is the most demanded blood type in hospitals, both because it’s the most common and because O-negative blood is a universal donor type.
This means it is compatible with any blood type.
What blood types are there and what do they mean?
Blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a liquid called plasma.
Your blood group is identified by antibodies and antigens in the blood.
There are 4 main blood groups (types of blood) – A, B, AB and O.
Your blood group is determined by the genes you inherit from your parents.
Each group can be either RhD positive or RhD negative, which means in total there are technically 8 blood groups.
How does your blood type affect your chances of dying from coronavirus?
New research says that those with blood type A an AB are more vulnerable to coronavirus and more likely to experience severe symptoms.
If you have blood type O you are less likely to be infected.
Those with blood type O also have a lower risk of severe complications such as organ failure – and even death – say scientists.
How do I find out what group I am in?
To work out your blood group, your red cells are mixed with different antibody solutions.
If, for example, the solution contains anti-B antibodies and you have B antigens on your cells (you're blood group B), it will clump together.
If the blood does not react to any of the anti-A or anti-B antibodies, it's blood group O.
A series of tests with different types of antibody can be used to identify your blood group.
If you have a blood transfusion – where blood is taken from one person and given to another – your blood will be tested against a sample of donor cells that contain ABO and RhD antigens.
If there's no reaction, donor blood with the same ABO and RhD type can be used.
Why are dangers of using the wrong blood in a transfusion?
Receiving blood from the wrong ABO group can be life threatening.
For if someone with group B blood is transfused with group A blood, their anti-A antibodies will attack the group A cells.
This is why group A blood must never be given to someone who has group B blood and vice versa.
As group O red blood cells do not have any A or B antigens, it can safely be given to any other group.
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