The Rh Factor Game – Fun for the Whole Family

December 7, 2009

So my blood type is O-negative. I know this both from donating blood (before I was blackballed by the Red Cross for spending too much time in the UK during the height of mad cow madness) and because I offered to donate a kidney to a family friend a few years back – which is a story for a whole other blog.

Anyway, the problem with being an Rh-negative mom is that if you have an Rh-positive dad (which is likely; something like 85% of people are Rh-positive), baby might take after dad and wind up Rh-positive.

The issue here is that mom’s Rh-negative body then views the baby as a hostile invader and starts cranking out antibodies. These antibodies aren’t usually too much of a problem with the first pregnancy, but they can create serious complications in subsequent pregnancies. (Presumably, it’s a case of mom’s Rh-negative blood saying, in effect, “Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me.”)

They now have shots of something called RhoGAM for the mom that counteract the problem – one at 28 weeks, I think, and one after the baby is born – but before scheduling these my doctor wanted to know, quite reasonably, if Eric knew his blood type. If it turns out we’re both Rh-negative, there’s no issue.

Eric did not know his blood type but thought his mom might have a record of it somewhere. Moms know these sorts of things.

Eric called his mom. She did not know his blood type, but the conversation was illuminating nonetheless. His end of the discussion (which I overheard bits and pieces of) went something like this:

“…well, I don’t really even need to know the exact type, just whether I’m positive or negative…yes, even if you and Dad are both positive, it’s possible that me or Chris could be negative…wait – when were you afraid that Chris might not be your child?…He’s B-negative?…You didn’t wonder until last year, when Chris was 38 and had given you a grandson who looks just like the rest of the Fosters?…OK, so you wondered before that but forgot…Well, if you wondered you must have known that he had a negative blood type…did you ever know what mine was?…Never?…What if I’d needed a transfusion or something?…You’d never thought about it?…No, I know that I’m not going to be a perfect parent either, I’m just saying…No, I’m not going to tell you what mine is when I find out…I don’t care that you’re curious now…Look, I gotta go…”

I think I’m just going to go ahead and get the RhoGAM shots.

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2 Responses to “The Rh Factor Game – Fun for the Whole Family”


  1. […] to the entertainment value of the hospital excursion was the fact that it also involved a shot of RhoGAM, necessitated by the fact that my blood is Rh-negative and Eric’s is Rh-positive. The RhoGAM […]


  2. […] to the entertainment value of the hospital excursion was the fact that it also involved a shot of RhoGAM, necessitated by the fact that my blood is Rh-negative and Eric’s is Rh-positive. The RhoGAM […]


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