If you opened this post hoping to read something new about Rh negative blood, you’re in the wrong place. This article is about incredibly rare blood that doesn’t have the Rh system or its antigens. Null means “nothing” and is vastly different from Rhd blood. Rh null blood means the gene for the entire Rh system is missing. Didn’t think that was possible for someone to have and live? Think again.
In writing the historical articles on Rh negative blood posted on my website here, here, here, here, and here . I went back to the lab when blood type was first discovered. In 2015, some writers and bloggers are still getting the terms mixed. I hoped to bust some myths because I’d noticed wrong terms, wrong knowledge base, and wrong conclusions all over the internet on the subject of Rh negative blood. With this article, I hope to add to the database of information that layman can use.
Rh null blood fascinated me from the get go after learning it existed. If anything, its presence reveals how capricious our DNA really is. Think about this. People with Rh negative blood can donate to people with RhD (positive blood within their blood type, but they can’t take, the same RhD blood. However, Rh null blood donors can donate to anyone with any Rh negative blood type (A-, B-, O-, AB-). Unfortunately, Rh null can only receive blood from people who are also Rh null.
There are many blood systems that are null besides Rh, and these people are why there is a place called the American Rare Blood Donor program. There are one or two European sites as well. The null blood is used in research and they serve as a contact site that doctors can contact when they have a patient in need of a blood donation. Yes, the null blood is shipped world wide if needed.
Remember null is rare; neg isn’t. Rh negative blood isn’t being tracked from the cradle to the grave, but Rh null is.
How were the people with Rh null blood discovered?
The effort to purposefully find them would be futile and expensive. For the most part they got sick, and their blood was cross matched. Or they were traced by researchers because another relative was diagnosed.
What happens to the red blood cells for Rh null to occur?
Antigens in the Rh blood group system is expressed by two proteins: RhD and RhCE. For them to work properly, they need another glycoprotein called RhAG. RhD, RhCE, and RhAG together with LW glycoprotein, IAP, C47, glycophorin B, and maybe Duffy protein to form a core complex in the red cell membrane. This core group then transports NH4/NH3 and CO2/O2 across the membrane. This means they support the normal spherical structure of the RBC so it can deliver energy to the body. In Rh null blood, the integrity of the red blood cell forms into stomacytes. Normal red cells are disc shaped and cells with Rh null blood look like a stoma or ‘open mouth.’ People with Rh null are often anemic because their red blood cells are fragile. Read this great article on Rh null blood in The Atlantic. Notice how the writer correctly identifies the Rh system formerly known as “Rhesus.” That was great to see. I’ll celebrate when the Rhesus tag is eliminated from the vocabulary. Please share on your social networks and if you’ve enjoyed this post, please leave a remark in the comment section.