Truer blood

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.


  1. Tatyana »

    25 February 2012 · 9:55 am

    …or may be is not you who’ll find out, but your grandchildren. One hopes, though, by that time science’ll make their own discoveries, too.

  2. CGHill »

    25 February 2012 · 12:33 pm

    Medicine is advancing rapidly, though the means for paying for it is stuck in the financial mud.

    I figure we’re about to see the average lifespan increased markedly. Whether it will happen while I’m still around — well, that remains to be seen.

  3. Tatyana »

    26 February 2012 · 12:00 am

    If I were an all-powerful demiurg I wouldn’t want to increase the life-span. I’d rather improve people’s health in their last decades so the aches and ills of the old age are no longer haunt the elderly. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to feel at 75 the way you did at 45?

  4. CGHill »

    26 February 2012 · 12:07 am

    I felt like hell at 45. (I actually feel a little better now, at 58.)

    The downside of increased lifespan, of course, is even faster depletion of Social Security.

  5. Tatyana »

    26 February 2012 · 9:10 am

    But in my fantasy world (remember, I am capable of moving mountains and turn statists into objectivists…) nobody would need SS to to pay for bread and butter in an old age: if one is at the peak of one’s profession, at the best balance of experience and physical ability – we could all enjoy full working life with the fringe benefit of paying your own way. And be able to get some occasional caviar on that buterbrod.

    45 is a great age – but maybe only for Russian women…there is a folk saying: В 45, в 45 баба – ягодка опять, roughly translatable as “At 45 a woman comes into sweet Indian Summer”

  6. CGHill »

    26 February 2012 · 9:51 am

    If nothing else, it would neatly eliminate one problem with us oldsters: reluctance to hire us out of fear of medical expenses.

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