Ask Dr. D'Adamo

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Questions of A More Technical Nature

ABO, Secretor, and Rh Questions


I'm an A+ (non-secretor), my wife is a B+ (secretor) and our daughter is a B- (secretor status unknown). Just curious about: (1) how our daughter's RH factor could come out different? (2) does the above imply that none of us (in particular my wife and daughter) are able to give blood to each other in an emergency? (3) does secretor status play a significant role in blood tranfusions?


1. Rhesus type is determined much like ABO, with the phenotype (physical characteristic) determined by genotype (genetic combination). Genotype is usually in the form of alleles ('variations', if you will). The gene locus for Rh blood type has two alleles; one from each parent. In this blood typing system the Rh+ allele is dominant to the Rh- allele. Thus any combination of two alleles other than Rh-/Rh- will make a person Rh+. My suspicion is that both you and you wife are Rh+/Rh- (so-called 'heterozygous') Your child no doubt received a Rh- allele from you, and an Rh- allele from you wife; there is a 25% chance of this occurring.

2. Rh- blood can be transfused into Rh+ individuals. Thus, your B+ wife can receive blood from your B- daughter.

3. Since secretor status does not code for any opposing antibodies (non-secretors do not make 'anti-secretor antiobodies') it does not influence transfusion.

The Ask Dr. D'Adamo internet advice column ran from 1996 to 2009, at which time Dr. D'Adamo's teaching and programming responsibilities no longer allowed him to devote time and resources to directly answering visitor questions. However we've recently reorganized this treasure-trove of material and made it again available to his readership. He occasionally posts new entries. These are marked with a NEW tag.

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