Today In Science History – June 14 – Blood Types

Karl Landsteiner
Karl Landsteiner. Austrian physician and biologist who discovered blood typing.

June 14 is Karl Landsteiner’s birthday.

Do you know your blood type? The letter designation used in blood types was developed by Karl Landsteiner. He was the first to separate types of blood by identifying the antigens on the surface of blood cells. He found four different classifications or types: A, B, AB, and O.

A type blood has Anti-B antibodies and type A antigens.
B type blood has Anti-A antibodies and type B antigens.
Type AB blood has no antibodies and both type A and B antigens.
Type O blood has both Anti-A and Anti-B antibodies and no antigens.

Landsteiner would further refine his system with Alexander S. Wiener by introducing the Rhesus or Rh factor to the mix. Rh is an extra symbol to denote the presence of Rh antigens in the blood. Positive means the Rh antigens are present and negative means they are missing.

Landsteiner’s blood typing greatly increased the chances of successful blood transfusions and organ transplants. Doctors can now identify if a person can donate blood or receive blood based on the blood type and Rh factor. This work would earn Landsteiner the 1930 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

This wasn’t all Landsteiner accomplished. He was the first, with Erwin Popper, to identify the polio virus. This discovery would greatly help in the fight against that terrible disease.