Last week, New Delhi’s Rama Manohar Lohia Hospital admitted a patient with multiple organ failure. While the hospital was accustomed to treatments of this kind, this case was an exception. The patient’s blood group belonged to the ABO group. The ABO group, also called the Bombay Blood group, is extremely rare and most blood banks in the country do not have it.
Ashok Kumar, a resident of Delhi, had a serious liver ailment and was wheeled into Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital with multiple organ failure. His haemoglobin levels had shot down to 4 gms per decilitre while the normal count for men should range between 12 and 15 gms per decilitre. After preliminary tests, doctors realised that Kumar blood belonged to the rarest of rare category. Patients with the ABO group can receive transfusions only from other ABO group donors.
Since the hospital’s bank did not have the blood, doctors had to conduct a nationwide overnight search for a donor belonging to the same group. Finally, a ray of hope came from Think Foundation, an NGO in Bombay, that maintains a registry of the Bombay Blood group.
“The patient desperately needed blood due to the heavy blood loss and a very low haemoglobin count,” said Dr Veena Doda, Head of Department of Blood Transfusion Services at the hospital. Doda added that they immediately asked the patient’s relatives but realised no one was a potential donor.
“Think Foundation promptly arranged for one unit of ABO blood for us. The same was airlifted from Mumbai and given to the patient. After the transfusion, Kumar’s haemoglobin count has improved considerably,” said Doda.
Every month, the NGO gets five requests from across the country for the Bombay Blood group. The foundation maintains a registry of the rarest of rare blood groups and has 26 people registered with them who belong to the ABO group.
Vinay Shetty, Vice President, Think Foundation, said that they frequently get calls from various parts of the country with a request for the Bombay Blood group. 17 out of the 26 people registered with the foundation actively come forward to donate their blood from time to time.
“Most of the time, the donors registered with us immediately come forward to donate their blood. Fortunately, in this case, we had one unit of unused ABO blood lying in a suburban hospital. The same bottle was sent to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi,” said Shetty, adding that the NGO also organises blood camps across the state.