Why isn’t blood typing done at birth in UK? 

I went for a blood test today, one I’d setup last week with my GP, and while I was waiting for the vampire nurse to finish bleeding me of my precious blood, I asked her a question:

Do you know what my blood type is?

A simple question really, one that has two answers: yes or no. Her answer was the latter. But that wasn’t all there was to her answer, no, not by a long shot.

You see, when we’re born, we’re given what’s called the heel prick test. This test happens within five days of birth and is designed to check for nine major diseases that are rare but dangerous if left untreated. This is a test every child receives if they are born in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland as part of standard NHS operating procedures.

Makes sense.

But what doesn‘t make sense to me is the fact that our blood type isn’t determined around this time as well. You would think, considering how much more likely accidents like car crashes are becoming (as well as terrorist attacks) that it would be reasonable, not to mention practical, if our blood type was determined at birth and kept on a server database that could be accessed, using either unique NHS reference numbers or, even better, our National Insurance numbers.

While I know that anyone under the age of 23 seems to no longer receive those nifty cards (I am 23 and, yes, I am aware ‘nifty’ is not a word a 23 year-old tends to use, but oh well) the fact that our NI number is meant to be something unique to us, something we’re supposed to memorise and also carry on our person at all times… Well, it’d be useful and probably more reliable than giving our name since names are not as unique as we’d like to think (when I did a google search a few days ago, I found over two dozen women with my exact name in the UK alone. Not exactly reliable for finding patient information now, is it?)

I have no idea how much money this would cost the NHS, or save it, but what I do know is that whenever a major accident occurs and A&E departments are inundated with injured people to treat—broken bones, internal bleeding, lacerations and wounds—it would be much more beneficial to be able to check an ID, run someone’s NI number and know their blood type immediately rather than sending bloods to the lab on a rush, taking up precious time and resources, bumping other people down the line, and affecting overall productivity.

It would, also, be much easier for anyone to find out their blood type without having to do extensive googling for the nearest blood bank location in their area (something which can be incredibly tedious even if you are tech savvy like myself).

What do you think? Should blood type be found out from birth and the information stored on a server for access the length-and-breadth of the UK? Or is the current system one you prefer?

I’d like to know.

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