Why Bombay Blood Group Will Make You Question Your Science Textbook
It is missing from your textbook when it should be exhibited as Bombay’s own discovery
What are the different blood groups? A, B, O, AB…right? Nope, you missed one out: the Bombay Blood Group.
In 1901 at the University of Vienna, Karl Landsteiner made a brilliant discovery that changed the human world of medicine. He discovered that human blood was of three types- ABC. From this, C later turned to O which stood for null or zero in German. Landsteiner had collected samples from his colleagues at the laboratory and studied them. He found out that blood consisted of antigens. The A blood group had A antigens and B had B antigens. The blood without A or B antigens was zero or O.
A year later he discovered the AB blood group. This blood has both AB antigens.
Since then scientists and doctors had believed that there were only 4 blood groups. This belief was shattered in 1952.
In 1952, a strange case occurred in Mumbai’s (former Bombay) King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital. Two patients were admitted, one had a stab wound and another was a railway employee. Their blood did not seem to match any other blood group. The doctors were in a fix.
Dr. Y. M. Bhende, C.K. Deshpande and H.M. Bhatia from KEM Hospital’s medical college decided to research and write a paper on this strange phenomena. They collected blood samples from approximately 160 people and none of them matched that of the patients. Finally a man from the city proved to be a match.
They had discovered something amazing- a new blood group.
They named it the Bombay Blood Group since it was discovered in the city. Technically this blood group is called the HH Blood Group.
The Bombay Blood group has neither an A or B antigen. The doctors realised that our blood not only has A, B antigens but also an H antigen. This antigen is an ancestral antigen, the one from which A and B antigens have been created. Antigen H is present in all blood groups except for the Bombay Blood Group.
The Bombay Blood Group has no antigens in it. Thus if you are not searching for it, this HH group will remain under the disguise of O blood group and appear to be just that. The blood must be tested specifically for the H antigen and then only will this extremely rare blood group be detected.
Furthermore the doctors discovered something else- just 4 million people in the world of 7.6 Billion human hearts carry this unique blood in their veins! Plus, the Bombay blood group is found as positive and negative. From this the negative Bombay Blood group is the rarest of them all.
Overall in a city like Bombay only 1 in 10,000 people carry this blood. India as a whole, also has a considerable population of the HH blood as compared to other parts of the world.
An article in The Hindu says that interfamily marriages may, over time, result in the Bombay Blood Group. They have arrived at this conclusion since HH blood is largely found in areas where close-community marriages commonly take place like the Parsi community in Bombay.
For me, I found this piece of information interesting and exciting. Who knew that the city which loves the smell of money has done its due and contributed to science in such a noble way!
Tell me, do you know something more about the Bombay Blood Group? Or are you the rare one with this blood type? Comment below to let me know.
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