News for Negatives {online}
A newsletter for Stanford Blood Center O-, A-, B-, and AB- blood donors
Fall 2010

Rhesus monkeys



«Where did the name “Rhesus” come from?
Though they weren’t the first to study this particular antigen, in 1940, Drs. Karl Landsteiner and Alexander S. Wiener coined the term while examining the blood of Rhesus Macaques—the monkeys featured here.

A message from our Recruitment Manager»

On any given day, the Recruitment Team at Stanford Blood Center is working to help ensure we have blood products available to those in need. We do this by connecting with donors and inviting them to return. It sounds simple enough, but the reality is that this mission takes time, strategy, and creativity.
Because of our constant need for rare Rh-negative red cells, we rely on a relatively small group of donors to help us meet that need. We currently have about 2,000 donors in our database who are Rh-negative. That may sound like a lot, but when we need 100 O-negative whole blood donations every week of the year, it can be challenging.
One way we reach out is by hosting educational events. This year we invited our O-negative donors to an evening of patient stories, a tour of our laboratory, and commiseration with other O-negative donors. It was our goal to inspire this small but mighty group to understand how precious each donation is. We look forward to more of these events to celebrate other needed blood types.
In the near future you will be hearing from a recruiter again, asking for your next donation. Or perhaps you will receive an email to let you know you are eligible to donate. Remember that not every person in our community has a blood type as needed as yours; with every donation, you have the potential to save a life.

Karen Paganelli
Recruitment Manager | Stanford Blood Center

What does Rh-negative mean?
Beyond categorizing blood types into types A, B, AB, and O, there’s a component in blood called the Rhesus D (Rh) antigen that is very significant to the transfusion process. Your blood type may be A, but if you don’t have the Rhesus D antigen, you are “A-negative”.
Negative blood types like yours are safe to give to people who have the Rhesus D antigen as well as those who don’t. Negative blood types like yours are also rare, as shown here:

red blood cells«The perfection and beauty of red blood cells

Red blood cells (RBCs) have an unusual shape for a cell (although platelets are weirder)—they are biconcave discs without a nucleus. But there is reason to their madness. Their unusual characteristics help RBCs do the job they do: not having a nucleus gives them more space to carry the gases they transport (oxygen, carbon dioxide), and less mass. If they had a nucleus, blood would have more mass and the heart would have to work 20% harder.
The RBC's biconcave shape also gives them more flexibility to squeeze into small capillaries (which are only slightly larger than the RBC itself) and a maximum surface area to facilitate the transfer of the gases they carry. They are the picture of perfection for just what they do.


O-negative blood

These little recessive red cells are nothing short of miraculous. They are created only when a person inherits two recessive genes (one from dad and one from mom) for the Rh antigens.
O-negative RBCs have no antigens on their surface so they can be given to all ABO and Rh types. If you are ever in an emergency situation, you want your ER to have a few O-negative RBCs in their refrigerator tested and ready to go. O-negative blood is often the first defense against trauma in the ER because it is compatible with almost everybody. In a pinch, doctors can transfuse a patient with O-negative blood when there is no time to test the patient for his or her blood type.
Only six percent of our general population is O-negative. That’s just 6 out of 100 donors that can serve everyone. They are highly desired in blood banks and trauma centers.


News for Negatives is a thrice-yearly newsletter for Stanford Blood Center O-, A-, B-, and AB- donors.
Editor | Brooke Wilson; Writers | Jacqueline Miranda, Karen Paganelli

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