Mumbai: On June 19, 2016, four units of the rare Bombay blood group were flown across the border to save the life of a Bangladeshi youth waiting to undergo a life-saving surgery in Dhaka. Four Mumbaikars came to the rescue of accident victim Mohammed Kamruzzaman who needed the blood for an urgent surgery to treat multiple fractures.
The 25-year-old had met with a traffic accident in Dhaka on May 21 and was taken to the local Apollo Hospital. Doctors discovered that his blood group was incompatible with most common types. On further investigation, they found he had the rare Bombay blood group that even leading banks in Bangladesh were unaware of. In India, where a robust blood distribution network exists, less than 400 people are known to have the Bombay blood group, of whom few are active traceable donors. A frantic search led them to Vinay Shetty of the city-based NGO Think Foundation.
S K Tuhinur Alam, one of Kamruzzaman’s colleagues, reached Mumbai on Thursdayto collect the precious units donated by Swapna Sawant, Krishnanand Kori, Mehul Bhelekar and Pravin Shinde. “We had given up hope. The bones of his left leg and hand are shattered. His pelvis is broken. Doctors told us only surgery could guarantee complete recovery,” Alam told TOI on Friday. “We searched up and down the city (Dhaka) and called up an uncountable number of hospitals and blood banks, but most had never heard of this blood group. The hospital found his sister had the same group, but was not fit to donate. Our employer, Arinoba Plastic Industries, facilitated this inter-country coordination after learning that Kamruzzaman was the family’s main breadwinner and his ailing mother’s treatment was dependent on his earnings. In a way, India is saving an entire family.”
It has been an uphill task for the NGO to get multiple authorities to allow the export of blood. “We had to seek many permissions as export is permitted only under license. We got approvals from the State Blood Transfusion Council, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, Directorate of Health Services and CISF that mans airport security,” Shetty said.
The blood units will be transported in a special plastic box with ice gel packs. “Blood has a long shelf life, of about six weeks. Temperature control is key,” he said.