Not All Blood is the Same

We rarely think about blood until we need some.  Many people even donate blood which is a wonderful thing as long as the blood is exactly what you need.  My experience is not unique and I have had more clients than I care to count, tell me about their similar experience with the need for blood. My mother was hospitalized with internal bleeding from stomach erosion.  This was the result of pain medication she had been given by her physician for the arthritis she suffered in her knees.  While in the hospital, under the care of her physician, she was given blood to offset the blood loss she sustained with the erosion.  Each time she was given blood, she would become tired and then would have a barely noticeable fever.  But after a few days of this, she would then experience brain fog after getting her blood transfusions.  Her physician insisted it was normal and despite the fact that she had now had 6 pints of blood, her blood values were still low.

I stepped in and asked to know who had typed her blood.  They hadn't, they had simply gone by her records.  So I asked for a hematologist to blood-type her.  Her physician said it wasn't necessary.  I couldn't get my mother to go against her physician, and I couldn't get the hospital to order a blood typing if her physician wouldn't.  So after 20 pints of blood, they finally figured out that they had been giving her blood that was not compatible.  So you can't simply rely on your blood type records which may or may not be correct and may or may not include the phenotype.

Why?  Because blood typing is a complicated process.  It isn't just A, B, O or AB, there are also sub-types known as genotypes, plus Rh factors (the positive/negative).  In truth there are numerous factors that we may not even recognize that can determine not just the ability of the body to accept blood, but it is also a determining factor in organ rejection after transplant.

The importance of having compatible blood cannot be overestimated.  It may mean the difference between an illness and a serious blood infection, between a virus and an autoimmune disorder.  Don't assume all blood is the same and think about the idea of donating blood to be saved for yourself.  There are ways to do this, known as autologous blood donation.  This is especially useful if you are planning surgery.  You can speed your healing process and prevent infection by simply thinking ahead and saving your blood for yourself!