Blood Banking

Here’s how to remember the Universal Donor and Universal Recipient blood types using the TV show “HOUSE”::

House Season #4 Episode 408  "You Don't Want To Know"


Blood Group Mnemonic


In House Season #4 Episode 408, we find out Dr House and Dr Wilson’s blood types:


WILSON: "Of course [House], you're type AB. Universal recipient, you take from everybody."

HOUSE: "Of course [Wilson], you're type O. Universal donor. No wonder you're paying three alimonies."



AB = Universal recipient

House is blood type AB and “he takes from everybody!”


O = Universal dOnor

Dr. WilsOn’s blood type is O and he is very giving => “No wonder you're paying three alimonies.”



Now for bonus points,  What’s wrong with these statements by Dr House and his team?


****Spoiler alert****

If you haven’t seen this episode yet,  (it’s a pretty good one) then don’t read further or it will give away the answer to the episode!

****Spoiler alert****

Episode summary

A magician’s heart stops during a performance. He originally has Lupus (yes…. I know…. On House it’s never supposed to be Lupus!!!!) and then he gets much worse when he is given an AB blood transfusion when his blood is type A.


HOUSE: "It's not amyloidosis. And his blood's fine, we just gave him the wrong type.  Caused the DIC, explains the bleeding, multisystem failures."


Question #1: What is this reaction called?

Answer: A hemolytic transfusion reaction….. a potentially life threatening event!!!


Dr. Hadley: "But we tested his blood."

HOUSE: "That's because we don't test blood for type. We test for antibodies."

Question #2:  Is House correct?

Sorry Dr. House…..  Routine Blood Group typing checks for BOTH ABO and Rhesus antigens on the RBC’s (Forward typing) AND also for serum antibodies (Reverse typing)


FOREMAN: "Because your body only makes those antibodies when you actually have that type of blood."

Question #3:  Is Foreman correct?  If you have one type of blood say A…. is your body going to make antibodies against itself?

On the contrary,  if your blood group A then you will only make antibodies against what you don’t have… B!!!!!



HOUSE: "Apparently, he has one more symptom, his body's making an extra antibody, type B. Combine that with his natural type A, and presto change-o, he magically pulls blood type AB out of his hat."


Question #4:  If the Patients has antibodies against both A and B  would his blood type be AB as House suggests here?

No Way!!!!  If you have antibodies against both you most likely have blood group O!!!  Please note that it is true that Lupus patients may make antibodies against their own blood causing and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (Type II hypersensitivity) and that’s one reason why we check both the antigens and for antibodies!


For more about Blood Banking check out “Dexter Medical Mistake”.

Special Thanks to Dr. Ihab Banayoti.

Category: Hematology Mnemonics

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