Blood Transfusions in an Emergency

In 1818 the first human to human blood transfusion was successfully completed.  Early transfusions were risky and often resulted in the death of the patient.  It was not until 1901, when the Austrian Karl Landsteiner discovered human blood groups, that blood transfusions became safer.  Mixing blood from two incompatible individuals can lead to an immune response, and have fatal consequences. Prior to 1914, all blood transfusions were direct from donor to patient.

The following information is provided by the American Red Cross.

  • Almost 40% of the population has O+ blood
  • Patients with Type O blood must receive Type O blood
  • About half of all blood ordered by hospitals in our area is Type O
  • Type O blood is the universal blood type and is the only blood type that can be transfused to patients with other blood types
  • Only about 7% of all people have Type O negative blood
  • Type O negative blood is the preferred type for accident victims and babies needing exchange transfusions
  • There is always a need for Type O donors because their blood may be transfused to a person of any blood type in an emergency

If your blood type is . . .

Type You Can Give Blood To You Can Receive Blood From
A+ A+  AB+ A+  A-  O+  O-
O+ O+  A+  B+  AB+ O+  O-
B+ B+  AB+ B+  B-  O+  O-
AB+ AB+ Everyone
A- A+  A-  AB+  AB- A-  O-
O- Everyone O-
B- B+  B-  AB+  AB- B-  O-
AB- AB+  AB- AB-  A-  B-  O-


You remember when you were in the military; your dog tags included your blood type.  How many of you remember or know your blood type. In a serious long-term survival situation, this information could save your life.  The studying I have done on this subject convinces me that in a emergency a trained medical person could with minimal equipment  give a person to person blood transfusion if they knew your blood type.

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Note the use of the term trained medical personnel; you would need someone with real medical training to perform a transfusion.  I am just suggesting that you and your family know your blood type.  Giving this information to a Doctor could save your life.  The equipment to determine your blood type probably would not be available.


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5 thoughts on “Blood Transfusions in an Emergency”

  1. Matt in Oklahoma

    This is something I’ve been working on in our group. It’s surprising to me how many do not know even after years of surgeries and things happening. The general attitude is “not my issue” the Drs should know. Seems to be a dangerous attitude when seconds count

  2. Veteran Who Is Preparing

    When our kids were born we asked the medical staff for their blood types and were told that they don’t do blood typing anymore. That it would ONLY be done if they ever had to have surgery or after an accident that required a transfusion. The nurses told use that if we REALLY wanted to know that we should ask the Red Cross. The Red Cross said they will ONLY blood type someone if they are giving blood and that we should ask the hospital. The hospital said they could do it, but it would cost over $300 per test and is not covered by any medical insurance. It also is not a priority test and the results may not show up for months. We were shocked and so were our families.

  3. When deployed on disaster recovery missions it was standard practice for our blood type to be stenciled on our hardhat or helmet, along with any Incident Command System assignment and team identifier. We each carried our complete medical history on a Lexar storage chip worn around our neck, so that if anyone was injured the attending physician could bring up any information required, without having to go through the time consuming process of generating a medical history. Under the Health Care Reform Act all medical facilities are being required to convert from paper hard copy to computerized medical records. If you travel, ask your primary care provider to provide you with a data storage device having your medical records, and have this updated yearly. Doing so can save precious time if you are far away from home and must be hospitalized for any reason, particularly if you are unconscious and not accompanied by family members who know of any pre-existing conditions, medication allergies, etc.

  4. $300, just goes to show you what the Drs.have done. about 50 years ago in High School Bio class, the teacher did it to all of us , about 30, in less than 50 minutes for nothing.

  5. Order a few Eldon card kits from Amazon and you can get your blood type and Rh factor- it does not give any other crossmatch components but A,B,O and RH ar the most important in an emergency.

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