For a week now, multiple patients in several Mumbai hospitals have needed units of a rare blood type known as the Bombay blood group, forcing transport of the blood from other parts of Maharashtra to Mumbai.
Last week, Nair hospital had required five units of Bombay blood group for a patient while a similar request had come for two units from Hinduja hospital and two units from Tata Memorial hospital. So far, five patients of the rare blood type have required blood in a week.
The state government’s blood-on-call service usually transports blood over a distance that can be covered in less than an hour. But interstate assistance is yet to start.
The Bombay blood group is a rare blood group known to be found in one in over 7,600 people. It is named after it was discovered in Mumbai (then Bombay) by a doctor in 1952. According to Vinay Shetty from Think Foundation NGO, there are more than 350 patients with this blood group registered across India but only 30 are active donors available during an emergency. The Bombay blood group negative is even rarer.
As of now, a demand for the rare blood group is in Tata Memorial hospital for a cancer patient and a woman admitted to Nair hospital. Officials are making arrangements for the transport of a single blood unit from Sangli to Mumbai.
In Nair hospital, a female patient on Saturday had a critically low haemoglobin count of two. Normal haemoglobin count is 12 and above. Two donors were arranged to provide two units on Saturday night, but her haemoglobin stayed two even on Sunday forcing the search for a third donor. “Her condition remains critical. We may need more donors,” Shetty said.
In J J Mahanagar blood bank, an official said Bombay blood group was not readily available. “The process of collecting blood also takes time. We call donors only when there is a requirement,” the official said.
Activist Zahid Khambatti said blood banks needed to maintain a common registry for the rare blood group for quick donation. “Blood banks never store this rare blood type. When it is urgently needed, it is never available,” he said.
In one case last week, a distress call came from Tata Memorial hospital for a cancer patient. A person had to be arranged to travel from Satara to Pune to collect two blood units and bring it to Mumbai. Activists said interstate transport was expensive as the blood had to be preserved for longer duration for transportation.