A blog explaining science and technology through the movies ... or explaining the movies through science and technology, depending on the point of view. English is not my first language, so I apologize for the mistakes you are likely to find in the posts

Thursday, September 21, 2006

About Dracula's blood group

Vampires lick blood no matter when, no matter from whom, in a promiscuous way. Mortal men have to be more selective about it, since getting blood which is incompatible with ours can be extremely dangerous; except for a few of us gifted with a natural condition allowing them to be vampires ....

When Bram Stoker wrote his novel Dracula in 1896, medicine was starting to test blood transfusions. When blood from another person was introduced into a wounded man or woman’s body, the patient's condition sometimes improved quickly in a remarkable way: there were other times, though, when he died just as fast. No explanation to this was found until blood groups were discovered in 1900, four years after the book was published.

Therefore, neither Bram Stoker, nor his creature could know anything about the subject; that’s why when Dracula starts biting and drinking Lucy’s, her first victim at London’s, blood, doctor Van Helsing cures the girls with the brand new technique of transfusions, taking no less than four different men as donors. In real life, this treatment would have killed poor Lucy much faster than Dracula’s bites unless she had the vampire’s blood group, AB positive, known as the universal receiver, or unless all his donors belonged to the O negative or universal donor group.

Why is this? What is known as blood groups A and B happen to be two proteins sometimes found in blood. Those who have one of them are A, those who have the other one are B, those who have both are AB, and those lacking both are O. In addition to this, there is a third protein known as the Rh factor: if it is there, we speak of Rh +, and otherwise, when it’s not there, we speak of Rh-.

If someone lacking one of those proteins gets any of them in a transfusion, his or her body will react against this strange component causing death. Which means that an O person can only get blood from other Os, an A can get it from either another A or an O, and an AB can get it from anyone, as he has all the components in his blood already. Those who are Rh- can give blood to anyone, but only get it from other Rh-. Vampires, therefore, are either AB +, either aware of seeking O- necks.


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