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Each red blood cell is identified as being"family" by groups of proteins on the surface;these are called antigens and form the basis of the blood groups. The most common and important groups of antigens are A B and O and Rhesus Factor markers. By logical combinations, blood cells can be group AB, group B, group A or group O and in each casethe blood cell may also be Rhesus positive or Rhesus negative.Identifying these antigens allows the basic cross-matching of blood for transfusion but there are many other antigens which sometimes have to be matched and which mayotherwise cause reactions to transfused blood.Which blood group you have is a matter of inheritance; there are broad racial characteristics in different parts of the world. For someone to be given blood safely their own blood group has to be compatible with the blood group of the blood being transfused into them; this is done mainly by reference to the ABO system and the Rhesus system.
This requires a process called cross-matching whereby samples of blood from the donor and from the recipient are mixed to see how they react. In an emergency most peoplecan accept group O Rhesus negative blood which hospitals keep in reserve for emergency use until a full cross match can be made.

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