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Home » Dave’s DiegesesApril 2006 » Dave’s Diegesis: Transfusion Confusion

Dave’s Diegesis: Transfusion Confusion

Genius is always allowed some leeway, once the hammer has been pried from its hands and the blood has been cleaned up.
Terry Pratchett

Blood is thicker than water and you can’t get it from a stone. Baseball is back, and it gets my heart beating and my blood pumping. Like Johnny Pesky, the Red Sox are in my blood.

Even before William Harvey correctly described the circulatory system in 1628, blood was the centerpiece of a myriad of powerful beliefs. The word “blessing” originates from the Old English “blœdsian,” which described a certain act sacred to Germanic migrants to Britain, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. These tribes believed that dismembering their adversaries and sprinkling their blood on consecrated objects, places, and themselves and would grant them the strength of the enemies.

Beyond the myths of blood, however, is the intricate study of blood, or hematology. Most people know about blood types, but few know why transfusions between incorrect types can be fatal. The ABO system of blood typing classifies human blood according to the antigens that characterize the immune response of red blood cells:

  • Group A, whose red blood cells’ surfaces are covered with antigen A. The immune system will produce antibodies against cells that have antigen B. They can only receive blood from other type As or O.
  • Group B is the opposite of group A.
  • Group AB has both A and B antigens. Preferably they would receive AB, but A, B, or O may also be transfused.
  • Group O has neither A or B antigens, so all other types can accept type O blood, making this type the universal donor type. It does produce antibodies to counteract A and B antigens, so type O can only accept type O blood.

In addition to the letter types above, there is also the Rhesus factor, or Rh factor, named after the Rhesus monkey. A positive or negative sign indicate the presence or absence of this antigen. The mistyping of Rh factor is particularly perilous to women who, if they receive the incorrect blood type, may develop antibodies that could impact a fetus. The antibodies could traverse the placenta and attack the red blood cells of the developing child in a process called hemolysis. Hemolysis renders red blood cells useless, ravaging the cell membrane and releasing oxygen-carrying hemoglobin into the blood plasma.

It’s odd how science can flow back into folklore. In Japan, blood types are supposed to be indicative of personality, much like astrological signs, numerology, or other forms of quackery. Other places in Asia are beginning to subscribe to this system and asking someone their blood type there is as common as asking what one’s sign is.

Not that I believe in the theory of blood type personalities, but here’s what I think certain Red Sox players, past and present, would be. The traits are derived from Wikipedia and the otaku site called Issendai’s Lair.

  • A: Conservative, reserved, patient, punctual, perfectionist, good with plants, introverted, obsessive, stubborn, self-conscious, and uptight.
    Well, Curt Schilling is a lot of the above except for being reserved and introverted. I’ve heard tell that Mark Bellhorn was good with plants. Nomar Garciaparra had a streak of shyness and compulsion. Like the “Type A” personality that used to be associated with coronary heart disease by American cardiologist Meyer Friedman (another personality type system that has been debunked), they are stressed and goal-driven.
  • B: Creative, passionate, animal loving, optimistic, flexible, forgetful, irresponsible, and individualistic.
    Pedro Martinez, anyone? Although I’m not too sure how keen he was on pets. Type Bs are portrayed as unconventional, off-the-wall, and ruled by their impulses.
  • AB: Cool, controlled, rational, sociable, popular, empathic, aloof, critical, indecisive, and unforgiving.
    Keith Foulke strikes me as an AB, with his calm, nearly impassive, demeanor. He still seems to be stung by the fans revolting against him last year. In anime, villains are often type AB.
  • O: Ambitious, athletic, robust, self-confident, natural leader, arrogant, vain, insensitive, and ruthless.
    Who else but David Ortiz? There might be a budding Little Papi in Jonathan Papelbon. Type O is considered the best type according to Japanese standards of behavior.

Every Friday, Dave McCarty will join us to discuss a topic of interest to him and probably no one else but the author of this site.


I have very recently discovered your site, but I find myself checking it every day. Just read "Transfusion Confusion," and Dave's (yours (?)) discussion of personality types called to mind a big Thanksgiving holiday debate with extended family over Type A vs Type B. Do you have a link to info about the Type A system being debunked? Not that I doubt you at all, it is just that the same extended family is going to be gathered together later today for the Easter holiday and I'd like to bring some ammo.

As for the BoSox, I'd like to read more from you about Papelpon -- I think he's the biggest story of this regular season to date. I see that the Keep Your Sox On bloggers (where I found the link to your blog (and whom I have not written to -- this communication is the first I have ever attempted to a blogger of any kind)) gave Pap a +9 WMF.

Thanks for dropping in; I'm glad this was compelling and/or perplexing enough for you to comment.

This article states that competitive nature does not correlate with heart disease but anger and hostility do.

From the article:
"Through evolution, the body was designed to respond to stress with a cascade of changes, usually referred to as the fight-or-flight response. In times of crisis, the heart pumps faster and harder, arteries carry more blood to muscles, and platelets become stickier, making life-threatening bleeding less likely if an attacker takes a bite out of you.

That response may have worked great for our ancestors, but it isn't always best in the society we live in today. If you rev this system up every time someone in front of you in the grocery store's express check-out lane has more than 12 items, your heart and blood vessels will pay the price. In these situations, the stress-related hormones that get dumped into the body's system predispose you to high blood pressure, stroke, blocked arteries and heart attack."

So, it's stress, not being goal-oriented, that may affect your cardiovascular health. Good luck with convincing your relatives.

You'll be reading a lot more about Papelbon has he continues to mow down the competition.

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