What is the rarest blood type?

Written by
Michelle May

On 09.04.2023 at 10:00 a.m.

Modified on 09.04.2023 at 10:00 a.m.

Accidents, haemorrhages, childbirth, operations… Blood groups save lives every year. Apart from the eight majority groups of the ABO – rhesus system, there are 380 blood groups, 250 of which are considered rare in France.


Each year, 1 million people are cared for thanks to blood donations, according to the French Blood Establishment (EFS). Accident, haemorrhage, childbirth, surgery (…), blood products are used daily to respond to emergency situations: 10,000 would be needed each day. To do this, a blood group check is essential. It helps to avoid fatal errors… “Blood groups are essentially used to ensure the compatibility of red blood cells between the blood donor and the recipient”, explains the EFS. There are eight major ones, among which the ABO system, within which are found the group A, B, AB, O and the “rhesus” system, which indicates the presence or absence of the D antigen on the Red cells. The blood group will therefore be marked with rhesus – or +: A+, B+, A-, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ and O-. Thus, when the negative is added to the O, it means that the D antigen is absent. These different groups are defined from birth according to his genetic heritage transmitted by the parents.


What are the universal donor and recipient groups?

In France, group A is the most represented (38%). Next come the groups O (36%), B (8%), A- (7%), O- (6%), AB (3%), B- (1%), AB- (1%) among the rarest. This distribution is specific to France. It varies according to the countries, the continents. “In South America, for example, group O is by far the most common,” says the EFS. Peru has 71% of its population as group O. The rarest remains group AB. In India, 40% of the population is group B. It is not because group A + is the most widespread in France that it is not the most sought after. On the contrary. It is precisely because it is so common among the population that it saves many lives. The O- group is considered a “universal donor”, ​​ie it can donate blood to any other group. Conversely, the AB+ group is a universal receiver.

How many rare blood groups are there in France?


Apart from the eight majority groups of the ABO – rhesus system, there are 380 blood groups, 250 of which are considered rare in France. According to the National Reference Center for Blood Groups (CNRGS), 700,000 French people have a rare blood group. “In France, a blood group is qualified as rare if its frequency is less than 0.4% in the general population”, specifies the EFS. These include, for example, the “Bombay” group, which concerns 85 people in France and which is considered “exceptional”, “Negative Vel” (just over 300 in France), Rh29 also called “Nil Rhesus”, with only one active donor in France and less than twenty worldwide.

You may also be interested in:

⋙ How to know your blood group?

⋙ Why is blood group O – a universal donor?

⋙ Depending on your blood type, you are more or less vulnerable to gastroenteritis

⋙ Since when do we distinguish different blood groups?

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