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How 4 Indians with a rare blood group saved a Bangladeshi across the border

Think Change India
20th Jun 2016
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On Saturday, 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.

Representational Image, Source - The Hindu
Representational Image, Source – The Hindu

According to The Times Of India, the 25-year-old had met with an accident in Dhaka on May 21 and was taken to the local Apollo Hospital for treatment. On investigation, the doctors found he had the rare Bombay blood group that even leading blood banks of 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 online and offline search led them to Vinay Shetty of the city-based NGO Think Foundation.

SK Tuhinur Alam, one of Kamruzzaman’s colleagues, reached Mumbai to collect the precious units that were donated by Swapna Sawant, Krishnanand Kori, Mehul Bhelekar and Pravin Shinde. “We had given up hope that he will live. The bones of his left leg and hand are shattered. His pelvis too is broken. Doctors told us only surgery could guarantee his complete recovery,” Tuhinur told The Times Of India.

“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 decided to test his family members and found his sister had the same group. But she was not fit to donate. Our employer, Arinoba Plastic Industries, facilitated this inter-country coordination after learning that Kamruzzaman was the main bread winner for the family and his ailing mother’s treatment was dependent on his earnings. In a way, India is not saving just one life, but an entire family,” Tuhinur added.

It was an uphill task for the NGO to get multiple authorities to allow the export of blood, which is only permitted under special circumstances. “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 Central Industrial Security Force that mans airport security,” Vinay said. The blood units were 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 stated.

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