Ever heard of Thalassemia? It is a genetic blood disorder in which the bone marrow cannot form sufficient red blood cells. This disease is generally passed from parents to their child with a probability of 0.25. Such a patient needs blood on a regular basis, just to keep him alive!
14 year old Kiran from Davanagere was reported with this horrible disease! His head had started to expand abnormally since the age of 2! His haemoglobin level was only 4.7 (the normal being 12.5) and needed at least 2 units of blood to be transfused immediately. What made it all worse, was his blood being of the Bombay group– a blood group so rare that you would find only one person of this blood group in 17,000! Whenever, in the state of Karnataka, there is a situation when people fail to find blood, someone from somewhere suggest the them to call a number- 9480044444. This is the blood helpline for Karnataka, a number that networks across 50 major blood banks of the state and ensures that a patient finds blood from the nearest source. Whenever, the helpline fails to cater to a rare group request, a volunteer of the Sankalp emergency wing receives a call.
The volunteer diagnosed and documented the problem over phone. He was worried. Finding a donor of a group this rare, that too in a town like Davanagere, it was next to impossible! And this was not just a one time solution- Kiran needed blood regularly to be transfused to him. The young volunteer suggested Kiran’s parents to shift him to a reputed hospital in Bangalore, where he will receive better and affordable treatment. His parents took 5 days to decide over it, and finally arrived Bangalore. Meanwhile, the volunteer had found a donor, who was happy to donate. But unfortunately, on the day before he was to donate, he met with an accident! This meant serious disaster!
Databases were scanned, blood bank officers were called- every possible measure to save the child was taken. The hemoglobin level of this child had come down to 3.5! The picture was turning darker for his parents and doctors! One donor had come up but later turned cold shoulders!
The next day, a prominent hospital got one donation done for Kiran. After transfusing this unit of blood, his hemoglobin level raised to 5.4- still far from safe! His doctor asked for one more unit. The hunt was still on. Some old donor’s databases were pulled. Many phone numbers were outdated and hence, volunteers decided to visit their addresses, which, in most cases, had changed. Nothing helped!
At this point of time, when all other methods had failed, these volunteers decided to publish the problem in a prominent newspaper. This measure did turn tables! That night the volunteers recieved calls all night. A few callers were even donors of the bombay group! One of them donated immediately and the child was saved! The child still needs blood every month, and the fight with the rarest blood group, continues! In case you know someone with Bombay blood group, and you feel you can help save Kiran’s life, call 9880132850.