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Blood types

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What blood type are you?

Your blood type helps determine which type of donation (whole blood, plasma or platelets) is the best use of your blood.

Blood type B

  • 10% of Australians have B blood type
  • As type B is one of the rarest blood types, B type blood donors are always needed, particularly for plasma donations
  • By giving plasma regularly, you can help people with B and O blood types

Blood type A

  • 38% of Australians have type A blood
  • As type A blood is common, it is in constant demand and more is always needed
  • By giving blood regularly you can help other As and also people with AB blood types

Blood type O

  • 49% of Australians have type O blood
  • As type O blood is the most common, it is in constant demand and more is always needed
  • By giving blood regularly you can help other Os and also people with AB, A and B blood types

Blood type AB

  • Just 3% of Australians have type AB blood
  • Even though type AB is the rarest blood type, type AB plasma can help people with any blood type. So, more type AB plasma donors are always needed
  • By giving plasma regularly you can help people with AB, O, B and A blood types

I don’t know my blood type – how do I find out?

Book an appointment to donate at your nearest donor centre or call 13 95 96. After you’ve donated and your blood has been tested, you’ll receive a donor card which has your blood group on it.

How many blood types are there?

There are 8 different blood types and the graph below shows the percentage of Australians that have a particular blood type.

How many blood types are there?

What blood types can be given in an operation?

When a transfusion is given, it's preferable for patients to receive blood of the same ABO and Rh(D) group. However, in an emergency, if the required blood group isn't available, a patient may be given another group as shown below.

What blood types can be given in an operation

Where do we get our blood type from?

Everybody has a particular blood type which is inherited from your parents. A combination of genes from them determine the presence (or absence) of certain substances called antigens on the surface of all your red blood cells.

Where did blood typing come from?

In 1901, an Austrian scientist, Karl Landsteiner, found that reactions between these antigens, and other substances in plasma (called antibodies) sometimes cause the red blood cells to clump together, resulting in adverse reactions in transfusion recipients. After further experiments, he found four blood groups based on the presence or absence of two specific antigens which we now know as A and B.

This discovery paved the way for a system of blood grouping called the ABO system.

In 1939 and 1940, research involving rhesus monkeys identified another grouping factor which was called the Rhesus Factor (Rh factor). People, regardless of their ABO blood group, who were found to have a D antigen present were grouped as Rh positive and those without the D antigen were grouped as Rh negative. The rhesus group is indicated by a '+' (Rh positive) or '-' (Rh negative) after a person's ABO type e.g. A+ or O-. All these groups are genetically based. People who are Rh negative may develop an antibody (called anti-D) if they are exposed to the D antigen during pregnancy or a blood transfusion.