The Jakarta Post
The Rhnull blood type was discovered in 1961 and is considered the rarest in the world. (Shutterstock/Cherries)
A blood type that was discovered in 1961, named Rhnull for the fact that it is missing the most common type of antigen, Rh, is the rarest-known blood type in the world. Since then, only about 43 people on the entire planet had been identified to have Rhnull, according to Reader’s Digest.
A study published in the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association referenced the original 1961 description of Rhnull made by chief serologist of the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women in Perth, Australia, G.H. Voz, and his colleagues, though the name Rhnull was coined by R. Ceppellini three years later.
According to the study, only 14 families with the Rhnull phenotype have been recorded in medical literature. The Rhnull phenotype is produced by at least two different genetic mechanisms.
Reportedly, 45 independent antigens are shown to be absent in this so-called golden blood, which means anyone with the Rhnull blood does not express any antigens in their red blood cells. Because of this, Rhnull blood is considered to be the new universal blood for anyone with rare blood types within the Rh system. The Rhnull phenotype reportedly happens in one in 6 million people.
This makes it a highly prized blood type by doctors, but could, however, be very dangerous for anyone with Rhnull blood in times when they need blood transfusion due to the lack of available donors.
Read also: What blood types are really about
Previously, the Smithsonian reported a case in which a woman received type O blood and it was found to be incompatible with her blood type, despite O blood being considered a universal donor.
The woman experienced chills and pains after the blood transfusion. Doctors then confirmed that even type O blood could contain antigens that the medical and scientific community had not been aware of.
“It’s the golden blood,” said Dr. Thierry Peyrard, director of the National Immunohematology Reference Laboratory in Paris.
In an article published by The Atlantic, Rhnull was dubbed golden blood by many doctors and scientists as it is very rare and donors were and still are extremely limited.
Next to the ABO system, Rhnull is the most significant blood group in transfusion medicine. (acr/wng)