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Updated: July 28, 2013 23:22 IST

Meet the rarest of rare

Shyama Rajagopal
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Mohammed Zakir at Pookattupady came to know about his rare blood group when he went to donate blood at Samaritan Hospital, Pazhavanagad, 14 years ago. He was 29 years old then.

“When a friend informed him that the hospital authorities have asked him to report to the hospital, he was scared — suspecting some disease. I went back to the hospital almost a year later, since it lay heavy on my mind. They told me I have a rare blood group called Bombay Oh or Bombay O.”

Since then he has donated six times for emergency cases at various hospital. The IMA Blood Bank at Ernakulam had only my name aginst this blood group for a long time, he said.

Zakir had since tried to make a forum of people with rare group and had even given a detailed report to the then District Medical Officer about 12-13 years ago, but nothing has come out of it.

“Mostly I have given blood to women in delivery cases as such surgeries mostly require blood. For men, it is reported less because the need arises only when someone is in trauma or has an emergency operation”.

Again, it was when Suresh Kumar from Thrissur who went to donate blood for his friend’s daughter in 2006 that he got to know that he had a rare blood group. A blood group he heard for the first time.

Bombay O, declared the blood bank authorities at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, who called him up to tell him about this rare group. “I did not know how to react at that time”. But he realised later how this knowledge was going be heavy on his mind.

“Ever since then I donate blood only when there is an emergency. As blood cannot be stored for more than 35-40 days, it would be wasted as the needy are also less”.

Advanced techniques are available in Western countries to store the blood for ten years, said N. Vijaykumar, medical officer in-charge at Aluva Blood Bank.

Relatives of Sheela (name changed), who went through hysterectomy in a Paravur hospital, were on the lookout for Bombay O group for the last two months when the doctor told them he would operate only when matching blood group can be made available. “It was urgent as my aunt had a lot of bleeding,” said the niece who along with her other family were making enquiries.

The family came to know about this rare blood group when the patient’s brother was admitted to a hospital more than a year ago and were told to be on the alert for this rare group. Though he did not require blood at that time, other siblings and members of the family came to know about this rare group.

They faced a unique problem when none of the local laboratories nearby knew about this group, said the patient’s nephew Mahesh. “They even wondered whether we were making fun”.

As a regular voluntary blood donor, he too had never heard about this blood group, said Mahesh.

“Such is the lack of knowledge that people wonder whether we have AIDS,” said Suresh Kumar. It would help if people with this rare group can came together and formed a platform, he said. As there is no mechanism here that would store blood for long, it would be a good initiative to form a group of people with the rare group. He was approached by Sheela’s relatives to donate blood.

Both Suresh and Mahesh told The Hindu that they approached the IMA in Thrissur and Aluva to find if a platform of people with the rare group can be formed.

Mohammed Sharif from Malappuram also came to know about his rare blood group about five years ago when he came to donate blood at the Amrita Hospital. Since then he had donated two more times when he had got calls from hospitals for emergency operations.

Damodara Panicker, chief technician at the Amrita Blood Bank said an initiative by the rare blood group persons can be supported. Over the last 14 years, he had come up with only15 such cases.

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