BENGALURU: While most blood banks cater to patients in a radius of 10 km to 20 km, a Bengaluru-based NGO, Sankalp India Foundation, is supplying blood to as far as Turkey and Sri Lanka. Here’s why — This is for patients with HH blood group otherwise known as Bombay blood group, which is extremely rare. Only one in 10,000 or 0.0001 per cent patients have this blood group according to various studies.
In April this year, a 70-year-old Sri Lankan woman suffering from cancer needed Bombay negative blood.
“In all of Sri Lanka, they couldn’t find a single donor with HH negative group blood type. The family approached Sankalp. We sent blood to her twice, once in December 2016 and the second time in April this year. Bombay negative is rarer than Bombay positive. Known donors with Bombay negative across India are merely 15 in number,” said Kumari Ankita, senior volunteer, Sankalp India Foundation. Surprisingly, Karnataka has the largest number of donors registered with Sankalp at 80, out of which 45 are from Bengaluru. “We have sent blood units to Turkey and twice to Sri Lanka. We have assisted families in USA and Pakistan to get blood locally,” she said.
Since 2010, Sankalp has facilitated 451 blood transfusions for those with this blood group. It has 230 donors registered across the country. No state government or blood bank in the country India has made the concerted effort of maintaining a registry of rare blood group donors.
However, the NGO provides this service free of cost. “While we pay for the flight cargo charges for poor families, the recipient takes care of shipping charges if he is well-off,” said Ankita. “The moment we find a donor or a recipient, we counsel the family to get screened for Bombay blood group because only they can help each other in times of emergency,” she said.
What is Bombay blood group?
When someone’s blood group is A, it means that the person has antigen of type ‘A’ and antibody of type ‘B’ in their blood. People with AB have both antigen A and B in their blood and no antibodies.
People with O blood group have only antibodies A and B and no antigens. However, what is not generally known is that all these groups have an antigen H in their blood as well. There are very few people - those with Bombay group - who don’t have antigen H in their blood. Instead, they have antibody H because of which no other blood can be given to them.