Rare Bombay blood group: Saving lives amidst scarcity

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | May 21, 2024 IST

Bratati Baral


The Bombay blood group is extremely rare, first discovered in Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1952 by Dr. Y. M. Bhende. It's also known as the hh blood group because it lacks a certain antigen called H. Unlike the common blood groups A, B, AB, and O, which have specific antigens, the Bombay group doesn't have A or B antigens.

Globally, this blood type is very uncommon, occurring only in about one in four million people. However, its incidence is higher in South Asia, with about one in 7,600 to 10,000 people in India born with this blood type. Despite its rarity, donating blood is crucial for saving lives. Before donating, doctors always check a person's blood group to ensure compatibility and safety. Mistakes in blood matching can be dangerous.

Durllabh Sahoo, who lives in Bhubaneswar, shared a recent experience: "I received a distress call to help a patient, Santosh Behera, in a private hospital here. His family was desperately searching donors as the doctor had asked for four units of Bombay blood type. Thankfully, I rushed to the hospital upon Aftab's notification, and fortunately, three other donors also arrived in time. This marks my fourth time donating blood since discovering my rare blood group. I used to be a regular donor until a doctor informed me of my rare blood type and advised me to donate cautiously. Understanding the rarity of my blood group, I've connected with various voluntary groups locally and beyond. I've also built personal contacts who can assist me when needed.".”

Manas Behera, a 37-year-old  regular blood donor frpm Bhubaneswar, recounts his experience: "In 2008, while donating blood at a hospital, I discovered my rare blood group. It was quite surprising as I had always thought I was O+. The doctor advised me to be cautious with my donations due to the rarity of my blood type. I believe many people may have this rare blood group without knowing it. Sometimes, even doctors mistake it for O+ blood. Since then, I've been actively involved with various groups, both in Odisha and Maharashtra, dedicated to helping individuals with rare blood types. These groups provide support and assurance for future emergencies.".”

Umacharan Parida, a driver from Rourkela, who is another donor who joined Durllabh and Manas in donating Bombay blood to Santosh at a private hospital hospital.\in Bhubanswar, shared, "I learnt about my rare blood group while at Ispat General Hospital in Rourkela. This prompted me to check the blood types of my family members, and two of my sisters do also have the Bombay phenotype. As a rare blood group member, I always seize the opportunity to donate to Bombay phenotype patients. Recently, I received a call from Bhubaneswar and immediately traveled through the night to help. I'm also connected with Bikram Yadav, who specializes in Bombay phenotype cases and has a network of 250-260 members. I'm always ready to assist in emergencies or when we can't find a donor ourselves."

Safak Aftab, who leads a voluntary blood donation group with over 25,000 members, expressed gratitude to the four individuals who recently saved a life by donating Bombay phenotype blood. Despite having members from all corners of the state, Safak noted the scarcity of Bombay blood group donors, with only ten known individuals so far, mostly from Sambalpur, Rourkela, or Jharsuguda.

He highlighted the challenge of properly identifying this rare blood group, sometimes mistaken for O+ by doctors. Safak urged individuals with O+ blood to recheck their blood type, emphasizing the critical need for timely access to rare blood donors. He extended heartfelt appreciation to donors who selflessly step forward to save lives without hesitation.

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