Taking a cue from Nagpur-based couple Khushroo and Fermin Pocha, who compiled an SMS enabled database of voluntary blood donors from all over the country, a Delhi-based couple – Rahul and Tulika Verma – have started a website for maintaining a record of people with rare blood groups.
“The goal ofrarebloodgroups.org is to maintain an up-to-date registry of all donors with rare blood types so that any patient in need can quickly be transfused with blood that is safe,” says Rahul, a businessman. The website calls for donors of AB Negative, B Negative, O Negative, A Negative and Bombay blood group – a rare genotype that is not AB, A, B or O.
The real inspiration behind the website, admits the couple, is their children, both of who were born with rare blood groups –– Arjunuday, the older one, is AB positive, while their daughter Lavanya is AB negative.
“We admit the motivation to start the website may be selfish as both our kids have rare blood groups, but as the popular saying goes, charity often begins at home,” Rahul adds.
Hundreds of blood units are required for patients suffering from blood diseases like Anaemia, accidental blood loss, excessive destruction of Red Blood Cells, Thalassemia, Haemophilia, Leukemia and bone marrow transplant. There is an acute shortage of safe blood and statistics from most blood banks suggest rare blood groups are very scarce. Delhi, which is also the referral state for the whole of north India, contributes only 24 per cent to the total voluntary blood donation. The annual collection of blood in India is only 5.5- 6 million units against the requirement of about 8.5 million units.
“There is definitely a gap between demand and supply. It often takes us a day or two to organise rare blood groups. In cases of extreme emergency, however, AIIMS maintains a directory whereby donors could be contacted,” says Dr Rama Bhasin, Head of department at cardio-thoracic and neuro-sciences centre at AIIMS.
“AB is the rarest to find and there are situations when we have to look for matching donors,” she adds. According to the latest data on blood banks of Delhi government – updated on February 28 – there are only one or two units of rare blood as compared to the more common B+, which is close to 900 units.