So far as I know, my blood type is a fairly ordinary A-positive; testing in the military, followed by several donations, has never indicated anything else. Which might be odd, since my father claimed to have had some oddball string of antigens, and “there are only nine of us in the country, and we have to know each other’s locations at all times.” I couldn’t tell you if this condition was heritable, except to the extent that I didn’t get it.
And after he passed on, I didn’t think about it anymore, until this cropped up:
While blood transfusion problems due to Langereis and Junior blood types are rare worldwide, several ethnic populations are at risk, [Dr Bryan] Ballif [University of Vermont] notes. “More than 50,000 Japanese are thought to be Junior negative and may encounter blood transfusion problems or mother-fetus incompatibility,” he writes.
But the molecular basis of these two blood types has remained a mystery — until now.
In the February issue of Nature Genetics, Ballif and his colleagues report on their discovery of two proteins on red blood cells responsible for these lesser-known blood types.
Note that these types have been known for years; it’s just that researchers had no idea where they came from, or how to test reliably for them.
I’m still not sure which of several dozen rare blood types might have been circulating in the family. Maybe it doesn’t matter anymore — or maybe I’ll find out that it does, at the worst possible time.