Rare efforts to get Bombay blood group

Here is how Chennai-based voluntary group Platelet Club ensures units of ‘hh’ blood reach its intended recipients on time

Updated - November 12, 2022 11:13 pm IST

Published - November 12, 2022 11:09 pm IST

A blood unit being transferred at a railway station 

A blood unit being transferred at a railway station 

Platelet Club, a Chennai-based voluntary blood donation group, facilitated one more rare blood transportation recently, taking its count to 28 this year.

Bombay blood group or “hh” is a rare blood type that is much sought after, as it is found in only one among every 10,000 people. In many cases, multiple blood banks across cities and volunteers coordinate to transport it safely and in time to help save a patient.

On November 9, SRM Medical College Hospital and Research received a request for it after a pregnant woman was admitted with Bombay blood group.

Sankalp India Foundation, a Bengaluru-based NGO working for blood donation, thalassaemia and bone marrow transplant, received the message and found that it was available at Tumkur Red Circle Blood Centre. Volunteers were arranged for collection of blood from the city. The necessary documentation from both the issuing and receiving blood banks was done.

The blood unit was transported in a special plastic box packed with ice gel packs and handed to a Karnataka State Transport Corporation bus driver at Tumkur. The blood unit was then collected by volunteer Deepak Sethia at Majestic bus terminus in Bengaluru. “The gel bags were changed at Sankalp India Foundation and handed to Nanjappa who was travelling to Chennai and it was finally collected by the family members of the patient at CMBT in Koyambedu and taken to the hospital,” says Srivatsa Vema of Platelet Club who coordinated the exercise right from documentation to finding volunteers.

Quick facts 
The Bombay blood group is a rare blood type first discovered in Bombay by Dr. Y. M. Bhende in 1952.
Those looking for this rare blood can post a request on https://www. bombaybloodgroup.org/
Contact the Platelet Club at 9381005254, 9840663929 to connect with other blood banks

Similarly, in another case, for a pregnant woman in Kakinada, the Bombay blood unit was transferred from Chennai.

On November 6 at 4 p.m. the blood unit was collected from Dr MGR Medical University Blood Bank and transferred Via Circar Exp 17643 with the help of Manoharan and Subham from the Southern Railway.

Srivatsa says they are in touch with 18 donors in Chennai who have this rare blood group. Whenever one comes across a patient with Bombay blood group, the family must be screened. They need to check for the availability of donated units across all licensed blood banks, he says.

Any donor with Bombay blood group should not rush into donating blood. “Our request is that the requirement be analysed carefully,” he says. He says fresh Bombay blood type is only required for cardiac cases involving children below nine years of age.

“Instead of making a donor to donate blood, we request caregivers of patients to look at available units at www.bombaybloodgroup.org and make arrangements for its transfer,” says Srivatsa.

Finding volunteers is the main challenge. “Anybody who is ready to take ownership of the box while travelling and hand it over at the next destination is a volunteer. We post such messages in social media to find interested people,” says Srivatsa. He says in some cases they have helped transport the blood unit via airlines but that is expensive for most patients.

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