Fascinating facts about blood

It’s coursing through your veins right now, delivering oxygen where it’s needed and transporting carbon dioxide away, ready to be removed from your body.

We all know blood is vital for life, but have you ever wondered where blood types come from? Or how it’s possible for the life-giving liquid to be transferred from one human to another?

Test yourself on these interesting facts about blood . . .

Not all blood is red
We may talk about the upper echelons of society being ‘blue blooded’, but in the animal kingdom that’s literally the case for some species. Spiders, lobsters, octopus and crabs have blue blood due to the presence of the protein haemocyanin that contains copper.

It’s mostly made of water
Blood is made up of several different components. The most common (around 55 per cent) is plasma, a mixture of water, sugar, fat, protein and salts. The red colour comes from erythrocytes or red blood cells (about 40 per cent), while white blood cells, which fight infection, make up 1 per cent. The final component is platelets, which help blood to clot.

Read more: Blood clots: Five reasons they may happen

There are probably more blood types than you think
Blood types were discovered by Karl Landsteiner in 1901.

Though most of us are familiar with common blood types A, B, AB and O, which is a part of the simplified ABO system, there are 34 other blood group systems with more than 300 known variants. These are all classified by the antigens found on the surface of our red blood cells.

The MNS blood group antigens were discovered in the 1920s, again by Karl Landsteiner. Another blood group, the S/s variants, are named after Sydney, where the blood group was discovered.

Receiving the wrong blood type can be life threatening
When a person receives a blood transfusion it’s important their blood type is matched safely, because certain types are not compatible. If they get the wrong type, their immune system can overcompensate and attack the new blood cells.

O negative blood is considered a ‘universal’ blood type, because it can be given to anyone, but only one in 10 Australian blood donors have O negative blood type

Read more: Blood type can impact your health

Blood types are very important in some cultures
In Japan, a person’s blood type is said to influence their personality. Those with type A are believed to be highly organised and sensitive. Type Bs are outgoing and honest. Type Os tend to be optimistic and eccentric, while rare type ABs with their dual nature are considered complex and sometimes two-faced.

Mosquitoes prefer certain blood types
Do you swear mosquitos like you more than other people? It might mean you’ve got type O blood, as research shows the pesky insects generally find type O the most attractive, followed by type A.

Read more: Blood-suckers out to get you

You can donate 470ml of blood at a time
If you’re eligible to give blood, a donation of 470ml will be taken, which equates to around 8 per cent of an adult’s blood volume. There are about five litres of blood in the adult human body whereas a newborn baby will only have around one cup of blood.

The body replaces this volume within around 48 hours, but it takes longer to replenish red blood cells and iron, which is why you have to wait at least 12 weeks between donations.

Just one pint of blood is capable of saving up to three lives.

Some people are scared of blood
Can’t stand the sight of blood? Feel like fainting at the mere mention of a nosebleed? You may be suffering from haemophobia (or haemotophobia). It’s thought to stem from childhood trauma related to blood.

It’s liquid gold
Not only is blood vital for staying alive, but it’s also valuable for another reason – it contains around 0.2 milligrams of gold.

It has recently been determined that gold plays a role in both the health and maintenance of the joints, as well as being a key element in the transmittal of electrical signals throughout the body.

Interestingly, the human body also contains one gram of silicon. This element is commonly found in the presence of gold in nature and its metabolic function is currently unknown.

Do you know your blood type? Do you give blood? Are you scared of blood? Let us know in the comments section below.

– With PA

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