By Jill Pertler
Most of us like to think of ourselves as glass-half-full types of people. Positive and optimistic and all that. I try to be positive. Except in one key area where I have no choice or voice. I blame my parents for my negativity. They both contributed equally to a situation I couldn’t change if I tried. To be fair, neither could they. You might say it’s in my blood. Literally. I am one of the 10 to 15 percent of the population whose blood is negative (versus positive). This negativity is due to the absence of a certain marker in the blood called the Rh factor, which is a recessive and inherited trait. The Rh factor was first discovered in the blood of Rhesus monkeys in 1940 (hence the name) and later in humans. Most humans have the factor. I do not. For the most part, it’s no big deal. I’d never given it much thought. But then I went online and dangerously hit the Google and found a firestorm of theories – conspiracy and otherwise – as to how the difference between Rh-positive and negative came to be. Some of the more outlandish ideas involve an ancestry of extraterrestrials, angels or even lizards. Here’s an actual quote from one *website: “Do the Rh-negatives amount to an underground army of human hybrids being carefully and secretly nurtured for reasons that might be nothing less than downright sinister and deadly?”Human hybrids and ancient aliens who are downright sinister and deadly? How about the possibility that Rh-negative blood might simply be a genetic mutation? I think I like the angel theory the best. I don’t often brood about my blood type. Most people don’t. The few I asked couldn’t tell me theirs. They thought it was a strange question, which I found to be a strange answer.Being negative never impacted me in a negative way – until I got pregnant with my first child. Then I had to confront the gruesome reality that if given the chance, my body would turn on the unborn baby and attempt to kill it. That’s because negative blood and positive blood are like oil and water. They don’t mix. They don’t even like each other. So things can get tricky and downright dangerous when an Rh-negative mama-to-be is carrying an Rh-positive baby, which I did – four times. If the blood from the fetus mixes with the blood from the mother, wham! Attack mode. The mother’s body sees the baby as a foreign entity – or alien – and tries to get rid of it. Luckily for us negative types a drug was invented in the late 1960s to prevent a mom’s body from destroying the baby. I got poked with a needle a couple extra times during each pregnancy so I – and my babies – were safe. Certain traits are rumored to correlate with Rh-negativity – some more interesting than others. People without the factor are thought to have an increased capacity for empathy and even psychic abilities. I wouldn’t have predicted that. Their body temperature is lower than their positive peers. They cannot be cloned, so you might see my doppelganger, but never my cloned twin. According to highly scientific Internet wisdom, people abducted by aliens are more likely to be Rh-negative. I better start locking my bedroom door at night. There are a few positives related to being negative. Folks without the factor have a natural resistance (but not immunity) to HIV, smallpox and the bubonic plague. I guess I can finally quit worrying about succumbing to black death. Whew!Scientists are interested in how Rh-negative came to be and why. Is there an advantage or disadvantage to being Rh-negative? If you asked me I’d say it’s a little of both. Disadvantage during pregnancy. Advantage toward plagues.Add to that a probable propensity for leadership. Since the Rh factor was identified mid-last century, the website rhesusnegative.net reports U.S. Presidents with Rh-negative blood include Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, George W. Bush, Clinton and Obama. British royals Queen Elizabeth, Princes Charles, William and Harry are also part of the club. As was Princess Diana. That’s quite a group. I guess I’m in pretty good company then. Perhaps my glass is half full after all.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.*Bloodline of the Gods