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Rhesus - Definition


Rhesus is an antigen of the red blood cells located in the cell walls. Just as with A, B, AB, and O blood groups, this antigen is involved in the determination of an individual's blood type, allowing for two different blood groups to be determined: Rhesus-positive, defined for those who possess this antigen (then classified into A+, B+, AB+, and 0+), as is the case for the majority of the population; and Rhesus-negative, for those who do not have the antigen (A-, B-, AB-, O-). We call this the "Rhesus factor", and it is notably useful for knowing if a blood transfusion is possible between two people, given that iso-rhesus transfusions work, that is between Rh+ individuals, or between Rh- individuals. Rh- blood is accepted by Rh+ recipients, but the equivalent is not possible, Rh+ cannot donate blood to Rh-. Furthermore, rhesus incompatibility between a pregnant woman with Rh- and her Rh+ fetus can lead to complications at childbirth, such as a hemolytic disease contracted by the newborn during delivery.