The rarest blood in the world: how people with zero Rh factor live

The Rh null blood group is different in that it does not have Rh proteins on the

erythrocytes.According to the latest data, there are fifty people in the world with Rh null - the “missing” Rh factor, which means that there are no antigens in their blood. In total, scientists have described 29 cases of this rare phenotype.

The problem with the owners of "golden" blood is that inThere are almost no Rh null donors in the world - according to various sources, from 9 to 11 people. Therefore, blood with a zero Rh factor is considered the most valuable in the world and it is called "golden".

What is a blood group?

There are proteins on the surface of our red blood cells,which are called antigens. The blood type of a person depends on the antigen present - A, B, O or AB. Each is divided into Rh-positive or Rh-negative. The protein antigen Rh D (RhD) on the surface of red blood cells determines whether a person has a Rh factor or not. In a person with a Rh-negative blood type, only the RhD antigen is missing, and with a “golden” one, all Rh antigens are missing.

Why do some people have "golden" blood?

It is believed that the "golden" blood appeared inas a result of a spontaneous change in the RHAG (Rh-associated glycoprotein) gene, which encodes the Rh-associated glycoprotein. This protein is essential for directing Rh antigens to the erythrocyte membrane. RHAG mutation is often associated with a condition known as hereditary stomatocytosis. These people may have long-term, mild, hemolytic anemia and increased breakdown of red blood cells.

Image by kayla from Pixabay

There are several factors that put a person at a higher risk of developing golden blood:

- Close marriage.
- Autosomal genes (abnormal genes that have signs of a disease that are passed down from generation to generation).
- Changes or complete deletion of certain genes such as RHD and RHCE or RHAG.

Is it possible to donate "golden" blood?

Yes, due to the lack of antigens, the owner of Rhnull blood is considered a universal donor. It is excellent for transfusion because it lacks common antigens and can be transfused to anyone who needs it without the risk of complications. However, this type is very difficult to find.

Image by kayla from Pixabay

Conversely, zero rhesus interferes with people who have it. If they need a transfusion, then blood that contains the Rh antigen will not work for such patients. This will cause a transfusion reaction.

What other difficulties do carriers of "golden" blood have?

Rh-null people may suffer from:

  • Rh factor incompatibilities duringpregnancy. If the mother is Rh-null and the baby is Rh-positive, the mother's blood can produce antibodies. They will attack the fetus and lead to miscarriage.
  • hemolytic crisis. Several studies have shown that infection or sepsis in such people can lead to massive hemolysis, subsequent kidney failure, and other complications.
  • Mild or moderate hemolytic anemia from birth, which leads to more rapid destruction of red blood cells. This can cause low hemoglobin levels and lead to pallor and fatigue.

In general, until 1961, scientists around the world believed thatthat all Rh-null embryos die in the womb. It cannot be said that being born with “golden” blood is winning the lottery. Having such a rare blood type is at least inconvenient. This feature only complicates the life of a person.

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