Thursday, September 24, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
The science of blood types

By Dr. Anthony Policastro There are some medical issues that the average person knows about. In many cases there is a lot more to the issue than people realize. An example is blood types. Most people know that there are four main blood types: A, B, O and AB. People who are blood type O will often tell me that they can give blood to anyone. People who are AB tell me that they can receive blood from anyone. Those statements are both partially true. Blood type A is called that because it has type A proteins attached to the cells. Blood type B has B proteins attached to the cells. Blood type AB has both. Blood type O has neither. Patients with blood type A can make antibodies to blood type B cells. Thus if you give type A blood to type B individuals, the transfused blood will destroy the Type A cells that are being given. The result will be a transfusion reaction. Since type AB blood has both A and B proteins present, it makes no antibodies. Therefore, it can receive any type blood without causing a transfusion reaction. Type O blood has no A or B proteins. Therefore it can be given to anybody without concern about its cells being destroyed. The problem is that the ABO system only reflects major blood types. There are many other minor blood types. The most well known of those is the Rh blood type. Those with Rh proteins are Rh positive. Those without them are Rh negative. If you give Rh positive blood to an Rh negative person, there can be a transfusion reaction from the antibodies in the Rh negative person's system. When I was a medical student, I came home one day to find my wife on the phone with her identical sister. She got off the phone upset. Her sister had just visited her obstetrician. They told her that she was Rh negative. Her husband was Rh positive. That meant that if she had a baby that was Rh positive, she would need a shot after delivery to prevent her from making antibodies that would harm future infants. My wife was very upset for her sister. She too was pregnant. They actually delivered their babies five days apart. I pointed out to my wife that as an identical twin she too was Rh negative. I was Rh positive so she was in the same boat. As it turned out both of her sister's children were Rh negative. All three of ours were Rh positive. My wife was the one who needed three shots. What most people do not realize is that we have now identified over 200 minor blood type subgroups. When I was a medical student we tested ourselves for the M/N blood types. I was type M thus I am BM positive (save the wisecracks). The result is that when someone needs to have blood transfused, the lab has to do what is called a crossmatch. They look at the blood that is about to be given. They use a sample of the patient's blood to check and make sure there will be no reaction. Of interest is the fact that like some other genetic traits such as sickle cell, certain blood groups are more common in some populations than others. That means that if someone happens to have one of the rare traits in their bloodstream, they would be at higher risk for a transfusion reaction. The best way to avoid this is to have a wide range of blood donors so we have enough different kinds of blood to make transfusions easier. For this reason, every one should consider being a blood donor. The more diverse the donor population, the easier it is to crossmatch unusual blood types. We may know about blood types, however, we probably do not know quite as much as we think we do.

Active Aging Week at Manor House The Seaford Manor House will hold Active Aging Week on Sept. 27-Oct. 3. Many events are scheduled. They include: Monday, Sept. 28 - 8:30 a.m. - Prayer Breakfast with U.S. Senator Tom Carper Tuesday, Sept. 29 - 9 a.m. - Walk for Wellness; 2 p.m. - National Coffee Day in Fellowship Hall with coffee and nutritional baking with Chef Beth Ann Wednesday, Sept. 30 - 10 a.m. - National Yoga Day - yoga classes; 7:15 p.m. - Smooth Sound Dance Band in Fellowship Hall with Big Band era music. Thursday, Oct. 1 - 9 a.m. - Fellowship Hall - Strength and Balance Class followed by a protein shake; 6:30-830 p.m. - Fellowship Hall - history class with William Cummings - A History of the First State: Pre-European Settlement to 1779 - in cooperation with Delaware Technical Community College. The class will take you from the earliest days of our state up to the turbulent times just prior to the formation of the United States. Friday, Oct. 2 - 2 p.m. - On the patio - 'Paint Ball Artistry' using paint ball guns to create a work of art; 6 p.m. - Depart for Salisbury University to see "Colorful China" a high-spirited song and costumed dance during Colorful China: For Peace Saturday, Oct. 3 - 9:30 a.m. - Depart for Wings & Wheels Festival in Georgetown - car show, WWII enactments, bi-plane ride, WWII planes or helicopters

CHF Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) support group from 3-4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, in the Medical Staff Conference Room at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The support group is designed for individuals who have congestive heart failure as well as their families and caregivers. Meetings will consist of guest speaker presentations and opportunities to discuss concerns, provide support, and allow for networking.

Attendees can receive free pharmacy consultations for medications that they bring in for review. Refreshments will be provided. For more information or to RSVP, call Melissa Williamson at 629-6611, ext. 2508.

Basket Bingo The Employee Activity Committee (EAC) of Nanticoke Health Services will hold a Longaberger Basket Bingo at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Seaford Moose Lodge, Rt. 13A, Seaford. The filled basket bingo will consist of 20 games and feature several Longaberger baskets as prizes. Advance tickets are $20 per person, $25 at the door. Advance ticket includes a chance to win the Longaberger Hamper basket and Longaberger Wine & Cheese basket. Nearly 30 chances to win. In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness month attendees wearing pink will receive a ticket for an exclusive drawing. Refreshments will be available. For ticket information, contact the EAC at 629-6611, ext. 8944 or

Tanger PinkSTYLE campaign Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. is rallying its customers in the Rehoboth Beach area to shop with the 'power of pink' this fall to help support ongoing efforts to end breast cancer during the 22nd annual Tanger PinkSTYLE campaign. The center will host a Survivor Sunday event at 1 p.m. on Oct. 4, at the Tanger Surfside center to celebrate local cancer survivors. Shoppers can purchase a Powerful Pink Savings Pass to save 25% off a single item at participating stores. Customers can purchase an unlimited savings pass from Tanger Shopper Services to benefit breast cancer organizations in local communities as well as nationally through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), the nation's highest-rated breast cancer organization. In 2014, Tanger Outlets raised $1.3 million for the 21st annual Tanger PinkSTYLE campaign.For more information on the Tanger PinkSTYLE campaign, visit

'Walk With Me Delmarva' is Oct. 18 There is still time to register for the third annual Easter Seals Delaware & Maryland's Eastern Shore "Walk With Me Delmarva" event to be held on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. at Baywood Greens, Long Neck. "Delmarva's Walk With Me is an opportunity for families, friends, neighbors and colleagues to walk together to support services for families living with disabilities in our local community," Linda Forte, event coordinator. Not only will walkers share the company of event ambassadors, who receive services from Easter Seals in Georgetown, they will also be serenaded by Elvis (Bob Lougheed) and Broadway/film actors along the walk route. Frozen Farmer will be on hand with treats donating a portion of each purchase to the walk. There will also be Delaware State Police K-9s, face painting and more to entertain the entire family. Registration is available at or by contacting Linda Forte at 302-253-1100, ext. 1121 or To learn more about how Easter Seals helps children and adults with disabilities, call 1-800-677-3800 or visit

Joe Hall Memorial Golf Outing The Joe Hall Memorial Golf Outing to benefit Delaware Hospice will be held at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club in Dagsboro on Monday, Oct. 5. Registration is at 10 a.m. followed by lunch at 11. The shotgun start is at noon. An awards reception will be held at 5:30 p.m Foursomes and sponsorship opportunities are available. To register or for more information, visit or contact Peggy Dolby at 302-746-4666.

Diabetes Prevention Class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Diabetes Prevention Class at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2, in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This two-session course is designed for individuals who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Utilizing resources developed by the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), this course provides individuals with basic tools to help them make lifestyle changes and reduce their risk for developing diabetes. Cost is $20 per person and a physician referral is required for registration. For more information and to register, call 629-6611, ext. 2288.

Bariatric Support Group Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery will host bariatric support groups on the first Tuesday and third Thursday of each month from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This free group is designed to provide education and support to patients before and after their bariatric weight loss surgery. Meetings will consist of guest speakers and presentations to provide information about nutrition, supplements, exercise and behavior modifications. Patients and their spouses, family members and friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. For more information, contact Shelly Geis at 629-6611, ext. 8810.