In MyType, visitors can find out what blood group they belong to. All humans and many other primates can be typed for their ABO and Rhesus (Rh) blood groups using just four drops of blood.
There are eight possible blood groups, classified using two systems: ABO and Rhesus. A person can be grouped as A, B, AB or O, and either Rh positive or negative. Individuals with type O blood do not produce ABO antigens and are consequently known as ‘universal donors’ for transfusions. However, they can only receive type O blood. Those who have type AB blood do not make any ABO antibodies and so are considered ‘universal receivers’ for transfusions. The Rh blood group (named after the Rhesus monkey that was used in early blood group testing) was discovered over sixty years ago and has remained of primary importance in obstetrics, as it is the main cause of haemolytic disease of the newborn.
ABO antigens are determined by genes on chromosome 9, with an individual’s ABO type resulting from the inheritance of one of three alleles (A, B, or O) from each parent. Both A and B alleles are dominant over O.
Maria Phelan is a biomedical scientist and artist who has worked for many years with blood as substance and subject, spanning the scientific and creative spectrum. MyType is an evolving visual display of the blood group reactions of visitors to BLOOD at Science Gallery Dublin. Collected onto Eldoncards, this participative exhibit is built from the generous donations of our visitors.