Where Can I Get My Blood Type Checked for Free
You're looking for ways to get your blood type checked for free. Well, the good news is that there is a way to do it. Before we divulge the ways to get your blood type checked for free, it's important to understand why you should know it.
The Importance of Knowing Your Blood Type
Knowing your blood type is more important than ever with COVID-19 all around us. Researchers have discovered people in certain blood groups may be at higher risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and suffer more severe outcomes than those with other blood types. For more information on this, consider reading Blood Type and COVID: Infection Risk and Severity or Coronavirus and DNA.
Understanding COVID risk isn't the only reason to know your blood type. The type of blood you have influences people in many ways:
- Non-O blood types have a 15 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease.
- People with Type O have a lower risk of blood clots.
- Type A, B, and AB blood may be at increased risk of suffering from gastric cancer.
- Type AB, A, and B are also more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis.
Knowing your blood type can also save your life if you have a medical emergency requiring a blood transfusion. Being able to tell healthcare professionals your type right away means getting the right blood faster.
People who have AB-negative as a blood type should consider donating because it is the least common blood type. Also, Type O can be used on anyone, which is why people with that blood type are known as universal donors.
Special Considerations for Pregnant Women
Rhesus (Rh) factor is an inherited protein on the surface of red blood cells. People who have the protein are Rh-positive and those without it are Rh-negative. The reason it's important to know if have the protein is that if you are Rh-negative and your baby is Rh-positive and your red blood cells cross the Rh-positive, it could cause issues with the next pregnancy. If the next baby is Rh-positive, the antibodies can cross the placenta and damage the 2nd baby's red blood cells leading to anemia.
Pregnant women who are Rh-positive do not have to worry and the best way to know is getting their blood type checked.
Different Blood Types
There are two blood groups: ABO and Rh. These blood groups are based on the antigen on the surface of red blood cells. The type of antigen on your red blood cells determines your blood type:
- Type A has an A antigen.
- Type B has a B antigen.
- Type AB has the A and B antigens.
- Type O doesn't have an A or B antigen.
In addition to the ABO blood group, there's also the Rh factor - positive blood and negative blood. As mentioned above, when people have the Rh antigen on their red blood cells, they are considered Rh-positive. When they do not, they are Rh-negative.
Blood types (ABO) are combined with the Rh types to produce A positive (Type A and Rh positive) or O negative (Type O and Rh negative).
How a Blood Type Test Is Performed
One of the ways to test blood for the type is by way of a blood test. A phlebotomist will draw blood and analyze it with blood typing - forward typing and reverse typing (also known as back typing).
Forward typing involves mixing blood cells with antibodies from A and B blood to see if they agglutinate (stick together). Blood cells that agglutinate with A blood are identified as Type A and those that do with B blood are Type B. If the blood cells stick to A and B blood, it's Type AB, and if the blood cells don't stick to either of the types of blood, it's Type O.
Red blood cells are removed from the blood and the liquid part of the blood is mixed with A or B blood. If the liquid agglutinates with Type B, the person has Type A blood and if it agglutinates with Type A, the blood type is Type B due to anti-A and anti-B antibodies.
Ways to Check Your Blood Type for Free
Going to a doctor's office or lab and having blood drawn often costs money unless you have health insurance that covers the co-pay and testing. Most healthcare providers will not refer someone to a lab just to find out blood type. They have to have a medical basis for the blood draw. Keep that in mind when you go for your annual physical, which is usually when blood is drawn for testing. It's also when insurance will pay for it if your policy covers it.
Blood donation may be another way to get your blood type checked for free. As a blood donor, you can ask the organization to mail you a donor card or call you with your blood type. This normally takes a few weeks as they do not perform blood tests on donated blood right away and contacting the donor is an extra step they normally don't take. To learn more about donating blood in your area, contact the American Red Cross.
A home blood test is available, but unfortunately, it comes at a cost. You can purchase a kit that comes with a lancet to use to prick the finger. You'll place a drop of blood on the special paper you receive and watch how the blood reacts to it. A guide is included in the kit to identify blood type. The issue with this way of checking your blood type is that it can be hard to tell sometimes and that could produce inaccurate results.
Another home test you can do is a DNA test. A free DNA test could make getting your blood type checked for free easy, but unfortunately, DNA tests often come with a cost. Sequencing.com has the lowest rates for DNA tests that can be used to figure out blood type and much more about a person. People who purchase a DNA test from Sequencing.com can get their blood type checked for free. There are also other DNA testing companies such as 23andMe, MyHeritage, and AncestryDNA.
All of the above DNA companies send a kit to your home to collect a DNA sample (by cheek swab or spitting saliva into a test tube). The test results are usually uploaded to the site and include a report with ancestry and health information.
For those who have already had a DNA test performed, the raw data from it can be analyzed with a blood analysis app like the one on Sequencing.com. This app will deliver a report with blood type on it and other health information, such as coronavirus risk.
This is what the free blood type report looks like:
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