Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, then by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about ABO blood groups.
In the thirty fifth episode of The Simpsons, Blood Feud (Season 02, Episode 22), Mr. Burns is not feeling well and requires a blood transfusion for his ‘hypohemia’. Unfortunately he has a rare double-O negative blood group.
Homer seeing the opportunity to cash in by helping a rich person tries to convince Bart, who has the rare blood type, to donate blood to Mr. Burns:
Homer: “It’s not like I’m asking you to give blood for free! That would be crazy! When you save a rich man’s life, he showers you with riches. You know ‘Hercules and the Lion’?”
Bart: “Is it a Bible story?”
Homer: “Yeah, probably. Once upon a time there was a big, mean lion who got a thorn in his paw. Everyone tried to pull it out but nobody was strong enough. They got Hercules. And Hercules used his mighty strength, and bingo! The moral is, the lion was so happy he gave Hercules this big thing of riches.”
Bart: “How did a lion get rich?”
Homer: “It was the olden days!”
Eventually after Mr. Burns received Bart’s blood and recovers, he sends Homer a ‘Thank You’ note only. Upset he didn’t receive a financial reward, Homer writes an angry letter to Mr. Burns, which Bart accidentally mails. Homer and Bart then try to retrieve the letter before it’s read by Mr. Burns, which leads to another classic The Simpsons quote:
Homer: “Hello, my name is Mr. Burns. I believe you have a letter for me.”
Postal Worker: “Okay, Mr. Burns. What’s your first name?”
Homer: “I don’t know.”
But have you ever wondered what blood groups are?
ABO Blood Groups
The ABO blood group system is used to denote the presence of one, both, or neither of the A and B antigens on red blood cells. In human blood transfusions, it is the most important of the 36 different blood group (or type) classification systems currently recognized.
A mismatch in this, or any other serotype, can cause a potentially fatal adverse reaction after a blood transfusion, or an unwanted immune response to an organ transplant. However, this is extremely rare in the day and age.
Those people with group A blood have A antigens on their red blood cell surface and have anti-B antibodies floating around in their plasma. They can receive blood from those with group A blood or group O blood. They can donate blood to those with group A blood or group AB blood.
Those people with group B blood have B antigens on their red blood cell surface and have anti-A antibodies floating around in their plasma. They can receive blood from those with group B blood or group O blood. They can donate blood to those with group B blood or group AB blood.
Those people with group AB blood have both A antigens and B antigens on their red blood cell surface and have no antibodies floating around in their plasma. They can receive blood from those with group A blood, group B blood, group AB blood, or group O blood; making them “universal recepients”. They can donate blood to those with group AB blood only.
Those people with group O blood have no antigens on their red blood cell surface and have both anti-A antibodies and anti-B antibodies floating around in their plasma. They can receive blood from those with group O blood only. They can donate blood to those with group A blood, group B blood, group AB blood, or group O blood; making them “universal donors”.
The ABO blood types were discovered by Austria physician Karl Landsteiner in 1901; he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1930 for this discovery.
Karl Landsteiner (14 June 1868 – 26 June 1943)
In Canada and United States, approximately 42% of the population has group A blood, 10% group B blood, 4% group AB blood, and 44% group O blood. The numbers are fairly similar in the UK, with approximately 42% of the population having group A blood, 9% group B blood, 3% group AB blood, and 46% group O blood.
Now that we’ve learned more about the ABO blood groups, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
And don’t forget to vote in this weeks Bracket Battle!
Have you ever heard of blood groups? Do you know your blood type? Have you ever donated blood? Have you ever felt under appreciated for a grand gesture? What’s your favourite Simpsons medical reference? What about your favourite Simpsons Mr. Burns-centric episode? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.