Imagine I walk up to you and ask you this simple question, “What is your blood group?” What will be your answer? A Lot of times, most people I ask this question will retort sharply, “I am AA” or “I am not SS”. They go on to explain how they think the last test done confirms their answer; some even go as far as swearing that no body is a sickler in their household.
This, I notice is a common problem, even among the educated ones. The only group of people, I find, who would give a correct answer are pregnant women or nursing mothers. This is most likely because, as part of their routine ante natal care, is assessment of their blood group and genotype.
I hope to explain this two distinct concept, that have for a long time embarrassed many. Often, I have found myself also making this same mistake, but I hope to share some key things that make me decipher the difference in a split second.
Whenever I hear about Genotype, I think of the gene, normally in the nucleus, which is inside a human cell. The genotype is one of the factors that determines the physical appearance, phenotype, of a person. It is normally transferred from the parents to the offspring. This is why, a child may have some certain features of either or both of the parents. There are different genes for different traits. Genotypic manifestation, ie phenotype, is possible if the genes are in dominant or recessive pattern. I will pause here, so that you don’t mix up the next thing I am about to relay.
Blood group deals with just the red blood cells. These are proteins situated on the surface of a red blood cell. Think of it as blood group is outside a red cell while genotype is inside every cell.
Although there are different systems of blood groups, I just mention the two most popular – ABO blood group system and Rhesus factor system. An individual can either be Blood group A, B, AB or O.
When you check your lab result and it is written, your blood group is AB+, it simply means you have both antigen A and antigen B on the surface of your red blood cell. The (+) shows you are rhesus positive. This is exactly why people of blood group AB are called Universal Recipient.
O+ simply means that your red blood cell do jot have either antigen A or B on its surface, and the red cells are also positive to the rhesus factors. However, it should be noted that a person with blood group of O- is a known as a Universal Donor.
It can be confusion, I agree, but if you give this concepts a little more thought, then you would find it easy to interpret.
It is encouraged that every living person know his or her blood group and genotype. This knowledge could come in handy when you least expect it.