Thursday, July 3, 2008
The Bombay Blood Group Phenotype
All through my years of education, I learnt that blood group is classified into 4 major types: A, B, AB and O. During my years at the microbiology lab, we religiously checked blood group types, the rhesus factors involved etc. Our own personal conclusion, as a class of about 50 students was that majority of us belongs to the blood group B+ve. We had only one person who had the blood group O and that was a great achievement. We treated her in awe coz she was one of the minority (the rare ones) and as a class of budding microbiologists we grudgingly respected her for her phenotype. Now recently I understood of a separate category, i.e. “Bombay Blood Group”. Biochemically speaking, this group does not possess any antigen namely the ‘h’ antigen found in blood group ‘O’, the ‘a’ antigen found in ‘A’ group or the ‘b’ antigen found in ‘B’ blood group. Logically makes sense. I always wondered when we can have A, B, O and AB types, why can’t there be a group classified as ABO? But as normal students do, the doubt remained but a doubt. Only if I would have found out, I would not be surprised today to know about this Bombay Blood Group.
Now the reason for writing this post about the Bombay blood group type is this: Let me start with an example from my family. My dad had to get his office ID card done and they needed to fill in particulars which included Blood group type. Now, my dad likes to believe that he is an extremely busy person and so he has no time to deal with trivial issues like checking his own blood group type!! So he did not go for a checkup (even after repeatedly asking him to) and finally his ID card shows up as Blood group type: +ve. I ask him, “Dad, what is +ve?” and my dad is like, “well at least I have written +ve. The other guys don’t even know if they belong to any group”. As usual, it’s futile to explain to him about the importance of knowing your blood group. Now the point I want to stress here is, we go ahead and find out what we are allergic to, we check the BP and the blood sugar level continuously, so in that course is it so difficult to go and find our blood type? Most of us are not even aware of the normal blood groups which are taught at school level, and now a separate blood group added to it scares me!!!
There is not much awareness about the Bombay Blood Group Phenotype . What if any of us belongs to this blood group? The Bombay blood type is the rarest of the rare blood types. The up side is that individuals with this blood group can donate blood to any blood type just like the ‘O’ group, BUT they can ONLY be transfused with blood from other Bombay phenotype individuals. Given that this condition is very rare, any person with this blood group who needs an urgent blood transfusion will probably be unable to get it, as no blood bank would have any in stock and this is what is the cause of concern! So when in need, where would the patient or the relatives run to find this blood group? It is always advisable to keep a record on your blood group type no matter which type you belong to. If you are of the O type or the Bombay blood type, always keep a list of people who share this blood group with you. Cause emergencies don’t knock and wait for you to open the door, they just barge in!!! It’s better to be prepared than to regret, it’s better to be aware!! It is important to make others around you aware.. Awareness is what helps curb mishaps; action and planning is what makes you prepared to face it!!!
Recently there was an article in the Times of India newspaper about this rare blood group. The newspaper, DNA went ahead and did some more research into it and posted this article