THE RHESUS ANTIGEN (RH) & Placenta Encapsulation

Amazingly, the placenta is the only organ compatible with two sets of blood types and genes. This is because of the above described inner-placental barrier structure. This allows for situations when a mother who is Rhesus negative (Rh-) has a spouse and baby who are Rhesus positive (Rh+).  It has been suggested that raw placental consumption just after delivery can suppress the immunological response of creating antibodies should mom and baby’s blood intermingle.

Every person is either Rhesus antigen positive (Rh+) or Rhesus antigen negative (Rh-). This means you either have the Rhesus protein in your red blood cells (+), or you don’t (-). Most of the population is RH positive, in fact, some demographics are 99% positive. When both parents are Rh positive, the baby will be Rh positive. When both parents are Rh negative, the baby will be Rh negative. When one parent is Rh positive, and the other is Rh negative, the baby can be either. During pregnancy, the mother’s physician will check her blood type.  If she is Rh-, she will be given a Rhogam shot at about 28 week’s gestation and then again after the baby is born.  This shot may help prevent complications she is at risk for if her blood is incompatible with her baby’s Rh-positive blood. The complications from Rh incompatibility usually do not affect the mother’s first baby, but once Rh antibodies have been produced, all future Rh-positive babies are at risk.

Complications may occur when a Rh-negative woman carries a Rh-positive baby, and small numbers of the baby’s red blood cells enter the mother’s bloodstream. The mother’s immune system produces antibodies against the baby’s Rh-positive red blood cells. Once the mother is exposed to even a small number of red blood cells, she has been sensitized and will develop anti-D antibodies; administering a Rh immune globulin product will no longer be effective. A blood test can determine maternal sensitization, and the care provider will monitor the pregnancy for symptoms. When the maternally-produced antibodies pass to the baby, they destroy the baby’s Rh-positive red blood cells which may cause anemia (low red blood cell count), jaundice, and in severe cases, heart failure. Subsequent pregnancies are at particular risk of miscarriage as well the physical and mental impairment of the child.

When considering Placental Stem Cell support, many parents ask about the RH factor. With any tissue transplant, the main concerns include infection and tissue rejection. In graft versus host disease (GVHD), the immune system reads the placental tissue as foreign material and attacks any donated cells. GVHD symptoms come from strain on the liver as it tries to eliminate foreign cells from the body at amounts that cause such organ strain that damage results. This can happen, for example, when the body has had a kidney transplant, and the T-cells are literally trying to dismantle and remove an entire kidney. Similar to kidney transplants, the Rh factor (positive or negative) does not have to be a match between donor and recipient, nor does the blood type have to match since these are not factors that affect the cell’s functioning.

Conclusion: The Rh factor (positive or negative) and blood type do not have to match between donor and recipient.

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