Blood types

Know your blood type essentials

Lady holding a blue question mark
How do blood types work?

Like your eye colour and the shape of your nose, your blood type is inherited from your parents.  

There are two systems that make up your blood type:

  • ABO (blood types A, B, AB or O) and
  • Rh type or group (positive or negative). 

Your blood is a combination of the two systems.

Illustration of three people holding blood type letters B, O and A
There are 8 main blood types
  • O positive
  • O negative
  • A positive
  • A negative
  • B positive
  • B negative
  • AB positive
  • AB negative. 

Some are rarer than others, and some are more versatile — but we love them all equally.

illustration of three people
Some blood types can be given to anyone

Some blood types are ‘universal’, which means they can be given to anyone: 

  • O negative red blood cells can be given to anyone, and are often used in emergencies.  
  • AB plasma, positive or negative, can be also given to anyone.

Why are blood types important?

When someone is given a blood transfusion, it’s best to give them blood that’s the same type as their own. If that isn’t available, they can be given other compatible blood types depending on their own blood type.

Check out this table, which lists donor blood types along the top, with blood types compatible for patients beneath:
 

   O-    O+    B-    B+    A-    A+    AB-    AB+
AB+ AB+ AB+ AB+ AB+ AB+ AB+ AB+
AB- A+ AB- B+ AB- A+ AB-  
A+ B+ B+   A+      
A- O+ B-   A-      
B+              
B-              
O+              
O-              

 

For the fine detail on blood types, check out our research article 'Blood types and doughnuts: What are blood types and why do they matter?'  

Which blood types are the most common?

Want to know which is the rarest or the most common blood type in Australia? Let's break it down.

 

illustration of a red O positive blood drop
Blood type: O+

% of population: 40%

illustration of a red O negative blood drop
Blood type: O-

% of population: 9%

illustration of a red A positive blood drop
Blood type: A+

% of population: 31%

illustration of a red A negative blood drop
Blood type: A-

% of population: 7%

illustration of a red B positive blood drop
Blood type: B+

% of population: 8%

illustration of a red B negative blood drop
Blood type: B-

% of population: 2%

illustration of a red A B positive blood drop
Blood type: AB+

% of population: 2%

illustration of a red A B negative blood drop
Blood type: AB-

% of population: 1%

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