By Pallab Bhattacharya
Four pints of the rare “Bombay blood group” reached Dhaka from Mumbai yesterday to save the life of a Bangladeshi youth who had a road accident and is waiting to undergo a life-saving surgery.
Four people from Mumbai, the financial hub of India, have come to the rescue of victim Mohammed Kamruzzaman who needs the blood for an urgent surgery to treat multiple fractures, The Times of India reported.
The blood reached Apollo Hospitals in Dhaka and the patient would receive his first pint of blood today and is expected to have a surgery tomorrow, Akter Jamil Ahmed, deputy general manager of the hospital, told The Daily Star.
Kamruzzaman, 25, had met with an accident in Dhaka on May 21 and was taken to the hospital. Doctors discovered that his blood group was incompatible with most common types, the newspaper said.
On further investigation, they found he had the rare Bombay blood group that even leading blood 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, a few of whom were traceable donors.
A frantic online and offline search led Kamruzzaman’s colleagues and the Arinoba Plastic Industries Ltd, the company he works for, to Vinay Shetty of the Mumbai-based NGO Think Foundation.
SK Tuhinur Alam, one of Kamruzzaman’s colleagues, brought the blood from Mumbai around 11:50am yesterday. He went to Mumbai on Thursday to collect the blood donated by Swapna Sawant, Krishnanand Kori, Mehul Bhelekar and Pravin Shinde.
Talking to The Daily Star last night, he said he handed over the blood to the hospital authorities around 12:30pm.
Tuhin, also a director of Arinoba, said they tried to find a match in some 50 donors in Bangladesh, and had spent around Tk 1.5 lakh for the cross-matching.
All their efforts went in vain.
He said their company had already spent around Tk 12 lakh for Kamruzzaman’s treatment and would stand beside him.
“We are very thankful to Mr Shetty. We are indebted to him forever,” Tuhin added.
On Friday, Tuhin told The Times of India, “We had given up hope that he will live. The bones of his left leg and hand are shattered. His pelvis is broken too. Doctors told us that only surgery could guarantee his complete recovery.”
“We searched up and down the city [Dhaka] and called up 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 having 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 breadwinner of 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,” he said.
It had been an uphill task for Think Foundation to get multiple authorities to allow the export of blood, which is only permitted under special circumstances.
“We had to seek permissions as export is permitted only under licence. We got approvals from the State Blood Transfusion Council, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, Directorate of Health Services and Central Industrial Security Force,” The Times of India quoted Shetty as saying.
The blood was transported in a special plastic box with ice gel packs. “Blood has a long shelf life, of about six weeks. Temperature control is the key,” he added.
Our New Delhi correspondent contributed to the report.