How to explain blood types to donors and recipients

Communicators and medical practitioners alike must be able to talk about ABO designations and Rh factors. Two videos can help you get the message across.

Vampires needn’t be choosy about blood types—unless they’re pairing it with a fish or meat course.

For humans, it’s a different matter.

That’s why health care facilities that receive blood donations—and hospitals where transfusions take place—must be able to explain to would-be donors and recipients what type of blood is most beneficial to a specific patient.

This video from, featuring a young onscreen host and a hip presentation style, lays out how the blood typing system works.

Scientists have 33 different variables for categorizing blood. The two most common determinants are ABO and Rh.

The video explains that in the ABO system, blood is classified into four groups, with plus or minus symbols added to signify the Rh factor (positive or negative). The A, B and O designations identify antibody generators, or antigens. A body’s immune system will attack any cells with antigens that don’t match the patient’s. Think of them as being a physiological password.

Here’s how the types interact:

  • Type O: This has no A or B antigens. A type O patient can receive only type O blood, but any other blood type is compatible with Type O, making it a universal donor to others.
  • Type A: Patients can’t receive type B blood.
  • Type B: Patients can’t receive type A.
  • Type AB: Patients can receive A or B.

If your blood type has a plus symbol, you can donate only to other positive blood types, but you can accept either positive and negative.

For another example of what types of blood are compatible with others, check out “Who the blood is for.” It’s a silent, one-minute video designed like a series of infographics, showing who can receive what type of blood.

How is your medical facility conveying this vital information to patients and the community at large?


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