The first ever meeting of the very special people who have the rarest of rare Bombay Blood Group (BBG) was organised by Sankalp India Foundation on 1st July 2012. Though many more donors were expected to attend the program, eventually we had the participation of 9 BBG donors and 6 family members. The few hours spent together led to extremely productive discussions which should go a long way in improving the availability of BBG for the Society.
The meeting was attended by people who have been at the backbone of the BBG availability in the state. The following people attended the meeting:
- Mr. Anand and Mrs. Vidya Lakshmi H M,
- Mr. Arvind and Mrs. Leela Sharma,
- Mr. B. S. Shreedhar,
- Mr. Harsha and Mrs. Sridevi Archak,
- Mrs. K Lakshmi Kumari,
- Mr. Ramakrishna Lanka V V
- Mrs. Sangeeta and Mr. Raghavendra,
- Mr. Somkumar,
- Mr. Vimal Kumar J
- Mr. Vinod Kumar J
Dr. Vishwanath V from Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health was present for the meeting and he cleared a lot of doubts and shared from his vast knowledge of transfusion medicine.
The meeting began with a round of introductions and experience sharing. Then the discussion went onto the lack of awareness about BBG and the experiences where the people who had BBG were detected as O+ve by the labs. Sankalp shared the recent development of testing all the people who donate blood voluntarily for BBG, a practice which the organisation and several blood banks have been following for quite some time now.
Considering the fact that a large number of BBG requests are coming in, it must be the case that a large number of people with this rare phenotype are going undetected. This is assumption is validated by the fact that several people who are regular BBG donors today had donated several types as O+ve donors. The group discussed three strategies on detecting more people with BBG.
- Ensure testing of all family members of known BBG individuals whether they are in a position to donate blood or not.
- Campaign for systematic screening of all O+ve donors in blood banks.
- Find strategies to encourage labs that just do blood grouping to add the H antigen screening in their regular procedures.
A strong need was also felt to raise the awareness about this rare phenotype. It was decided that awareness campaign will be initiated to take the awareness about BBG to the masses by active campaigning and through media support.
Dr Vishwanath led the discussion about rational usage of blood. He also made aware about autologous blood donation, intra-operative blood salvage, use of EPO and the other options which can be used to perform surgeries with fewer blood units. It is important that the people who are involved in making available this rare blood group are aware of the newer technologies which could be put to use. It was decided that a website be maintained with all this information so that it can easily be referenced at the time of need.
The meeting also gave a platform to share the networking and co-operation which has come about between the blood banks in Karnataka. Sankalp shared instances of the blood banks of the state coming together to ensure that each unit of BBG was optimally utilised. Sankalp also shared with the BBG donors the work done by Think Foundation, Mumbai which has enabled us to get several units of BBG from Mumbai for patients in various parts of Karnataka.
Taking the community of BBG donors forward the following was agreed upon:
- a new website will be setup in a month's time which will have the provision to enrol BBG donors.
- attempts will be made to track and route as many blood requests as possible through the group so that the alternatives to transfusion and the units available off the shelf in blood banks are used effectively.
- the group will meet once in 3 months
- people who have BBG but who are not participating regularly will be approached individually and attempts will be made to increase their participation
- a Google group will be setup for all BBG donors.
3 family members of the donors were tested for their blood group and 2 of them were found to be having BBG. We are extremely grateful to Rashtrotthana Blood Bank for making available their well furnished conference room for the meeting.
With rich discussions, lot of contacts exchanges and increased awareness, the meeting came to an end for the day. Everyone present was confident that by working together we can safeguard the best interest of the individuals with this are blood group even as we ensure regular supply of the units to the needy.