Man who donated 55 times learnt his blood was rare only in 2003


BENGALURU: Aditya Hegde, 34, the Bengalurean who was in the news recently for saving a pregnant woman in Chennai by donating blood, was unaware about the rarity of his group — Bombay blood group — till 2003.

Bombay blood group is believed to be present in 0.0004% of the global population and belongs to O blood group. In India, one in 10,000-17,000 people has this group. Such individuals can only be transfused with similar blood.

Hegde, who has donated blood 55 times so far, says he’d been doing so even before he was aware of the rarity of his group. Hailing from a village near Siddapur, Hegde grew up in Hubballi, where he joined donation drives in college.

“That’s when I realized that I’m O negative (universal donor). I had registered myself with NGOs and organizations that’d routinely conduct blood donation drives. In 2003, when I went for a blood test, I was told I have the rare Bombay blood group. That’s when I started learning about it. When I came to Bengaluru in 2005, I networked with blood banks and became a regular donor,” says Hegde.

Hegde has also donated blood to foreigners. “It was he who helped us assist a patient in Sri Lanka,” recalls Rajat Agarwal, co-founder, Sankalp India Foundation, a network of blood banks.

Today, with social media, it’s easier to learn about requirements and reach out to those in need, says Hegde. He recalls helping an 80-year-old woman suffering from a heart ailment at a private hospital near Hebbal and a pregnant woman from Raja Rajeshwari Nagar, among others.

Every time he donates blood, Hegde can relate to the small network of people having this rare group and feels a sense of belonging. He also alters the recipient, especially if young, to register himself/herself with the group of Bombay blood donors.

Though a generous donor himself, Hegde is well aware that he may not always find a donor in case he is ever in need of blood. Recently, when he met with an accident and fractured his left elbow, the thought worried him. “I was wondering how to arrange for blood if I were to undergo a surgery. Luckily, the fracture healed and no operation was required,” he adds.

Hedge, who is now working towards starting his own company, donates once in three months or depending on requests.

Why it’s the rarest of rare

Unlike other blood groups, those with Bombay blood group lack H antigen in their red blood cells. As this group doesn’t have either A or B antigen, it is usually read as group O. It’s only when a specific test for H antigen is done that one can differentiate between O and Bombay blood group.

Despite it being rare,, an initiative of the active Bombay blood group donors and Sankalp India Foundation, have made the task of finding donors easier. This platform networks all known Bombay blood group donors and maintains their history of donation, eligibility status and availability information. It has networked with blood banks to receive alerts at the time of collection of any Bombay blood group unit.

Sankalp Unit