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Golden blood: The rarest blood type in the world


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Golden blood: The rarest blood type in the world

Golden blood sounds like the latest in medical quackery, as in, get a golden blood transfusion to balance your tantric midichlorians and receive a free charcoal ice cream cleanse! But don’t let the New-Agey moniker throw you. Golden blood is actually the nickname for Rh-null, the world’s rarest blood type.

As Mosaic reported, the type is so rare that only about 43 people have been reported to have it worldwide, and until 1961, when it was first identified in an Aboriginal Australian woman, doctors assumed embryos with Rh-null blood would simply die in utero.

But what makes Rh-null so rare, and why is it so dangerous to live with? To answer that, we’ll first have to explore why hematologists classify blood types the way they do.

 

A (brief) bloody history

Our ancestors understood little about blood. Even the most basic of blood knowledge — blood inside the body is good, blood outside is not ideal, too much blood outside is cause for concern — escaped humanity’s grasp for an embarrassing number of centuries.

Absence this knowledge, our ancestors devised less-than-scientific theories as to what blood was, theories that varied wildly across time and culture. To pick just one, the physicians of Shakespeare’s day believed blood to be one of four bodily fluids or “humors” (the others being black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm).

Handed down from ancient Greek physicians, humorism stated that these bodily fluids determined someone’s personality. Blood was considered hot and moist, resulting in a sanguine temperament. The more blood people had in their systems, the more passionate, charismatic, and impulsive they would be. Teenagers were considered to have a natural abundance of blood, and men had more than women.

:snip:

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