My blood type is O Negative.
Boy, do the blood centers make a big deal about it.
A bit of blood science, to better explain this.
There are four blood types, A, B, AB, and O. There is also the RH Factor. That’s the “positive” or “negative” part.
Negative can only get blood from negative.
Positive can get blood from both positive and negative.
O can only get blood from O.
A can only get blood from A or O.
B can only get blood from B or O.
AB can get blood from A, B, AB, or O (which means that AB positive can get blood from anybody).
Notice that at the end of each of those sentences, after the “can only get blood from” all have the “O” and “negative” in them. In other words, O Negative can give to everybody.
And boy, do they want my blood.
When it’s getting close to that time that I’m eligible to give, I start getting the phone calls from the New York Blood Center. They are always kind calls.
“You know,” they say, “you’re O Negative, and we always need that.”
When I go to the blood center and present my card, the attendant always says “oh, you’re giving blood…and you’re O Negative!” This was the case today, when Maryanne, who is a delightful woman who goes to elementary schools to talk about blood and blood donations, took my card.
“Your card is different, you know,” she said, with a smile.
“Really?” I said.
“Yes,” she said, “take a look.”
Sure enough, at the top of the blood donor card, where it says BLOOD in white letters, the second O was shaded green, and part of the vertical line that makes the D was a negative sign, also in green.
“You’re special, you know,” she said. “Emergency rooms only have type O Negative blood in them, so that they can give blood quickly without checking the type. Your blood is immediately going to save someone’s life.”
I felt like I was part of a secret society.
They took all the necessary tests, and the technician said “do think you could give a red blood cell donation? You’re O Negative, you know.”
More blood education: when you give blood, a lot of it is plasma and platelets. Sometimes, when someone is in big trouble in the emergency room, what they really need is red blood cells. Lot of them.
So if a person really needs those red blood cells, a unit of red cell blood is far more valuable than a unit of whole blood.
And O Negative red blood cells can, you guessed it, go to anybody.
I remember, as a kid, feeling kind of awesome that I could give blood to everybody. I remember thinking that if I had the choice of being AB Positive, where I could take from everybody, or O Negative, where I could give to everybody, that I wanted to be O Negative.
I sat down in one of those barcalounger things, and the technician hooked me up to the red cell donation machine. It’s kind of cool, because they take the blood out of you, separate the red blood cells, and then put the plasma and platelets back into you.
“Ah,” the technician said, “you’re O Negative.”
“Yep,” said, “my gift to the world.”