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blood groups

In a transfusion, it is paramount that the donor’s blood group is compatible with that of the recipient.

Breakdown of the blood groups

There are several antigenic systems that allow us to identify the blood cells. The best known are the ABO and Rh systems which define the compatibility and the incompatibility of the blood between the donor and the recipient.

The ABO system assigns each individual a letter which specified his blood group: A, B, AB or O. The Rh system establishes whether you are Rh positive or Rh negative.

In the Caucasian population (people with European traits and a light skin), the various blood types are broken down as follows:

Répartition des groupes sanguins


Compatibility of the blood groups

People who have blood group O, also known as “universal donors”, can donate their red blood cells to any recipient. Blood group O is especially used in emergency situations.

Conversely, people who have blood group AB+ are “universal recipients”, meaning they can receive blood, i.e. red blood cells, from all blood groups.

In most cases though, recipients are transfused with the blood from a donor of their own blood group.

Compatibilité des groupes sanguins


Things are different when it comes to plasma: here people with blood group AB are the “universal donors”, meaning their plasma may be transfused to all patients. Conversely, the people who have blood group O are the “universal recipients”, meaning they can receive plasma from all blood groups.

To ensure the safety of recipients in a transfusion, observing the compatibility rules between the blood groups, and between the types of products is paramount: red blood cells, platelets or plasma. If administered incompatible red blood cells or plasma, the recipient’s immune system will develop substances known as “antigens” in response to the alien blood component he has been administered. This may cause his system to reject that component, making the patient only more ill.

Whatever your blood group, your red blood cells, your plasma or your platelets can save lives!