We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is ABO Incompatibility?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 27, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

ABO incompatibility refers to medical reactions that can occur if two different blood types are mixed in the same body, resulting in an immune or inflammatory reaction. There are three scenarios under which this circumstance occurs. The first is when people receive a blood transfusion of an incompatible type of blood, the second is when a newborn and mother have incompatible blood types, and the third scenario occurs when an organ transplant comes from someone who doesn’t share the same blood type. Except in the third case, this illness is typically easily treated if caught early, but serious complications might still occur. Organ transplantation of the wrong blood type can be very challenging.

Human blood is classified into A, B, O, and AB, based on the presence of certain molecules, and these molecules don’t always react well when placed in a body that doesn’t also contain them. The body can begin to react or have an immune response if it receives the wrong type of blood and senses the molecules or antigens. Some different types can be transfused to other people — A, B, and AB blood types may usually receive type O blood, because it doesn’t contain antigens that result in inflammation. Another consideration is the Rh factor, which determines whether blood is negative or positive.

The immune response of ABO incompatibility most affects the liver and it can cause people to develop jaundice. Other symptoms of this illness include presence of blood in the urine, pain in the back, and fever. Some adults note the sensation of great worry when they’ve been given the wrong blood. As the condition progresses, blood pressure could drop sharply, and there is need to get treatment right away, especially after a blood transfusion.

Treatment to address ABO incompatibility must begin soon, and it would include transfusing fluids, and giving medications that could stop reactions to the wrong blood antigens. These medications might be antihistamines, steroids or a combination of the two. The person would be watched carefully to make certain such treatments were working.

In newborns, treatment may be slightly different. To address jaundice, special lights or light blankets can be used to reduce bilirubin levels, and some babies require blood transfusions with the appropriate blood. Usually, babies with ABO incompatibility are not as sick with this condition than adults who receive transfusions, but they still require medical care.

The circumstances under which a person would receive an organ of the wrong blood type or a transfusion are extremely rare. ABO incompatibility is avoided by testing for blood type, and with a blood transfusion or organ transplant, usually the only way it occurs is due to a mistake. Transplant of an incompatible organ is indeed a serious mistake because rejection may occur quickly.

In infants, ABO incompatibility is more difficult to avoid. Couples who have different incompatible blood types may produce children with blood types incompatible to the mother. Knowing the blood types of the parents is useful to gauge risk of this condition occurring.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.