Indian man identified with rare blood group, only the 10th case in the world


A man in Gujarat state on the west coast of India, who died a natural death during the course of treatment, has been identified with a unique blood group, said to be the first in the country and 10th in the world.

The 65-year-old man from Rajkot needed a surgery last year following a heart attack. When doctors conducted a test to determine his blood group, they could not find any match in Rajkot. The patient was referred to Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s most populous city, but here too the doctors couldn’t find a match.

The lab testing the blood sample found something strange, and subsequently sent it to a lab in New York for testing. It took a year for researchers to come to the conclusion that the blood group was AB+ blood group with EMM ‘negative’ frequency.

In the meanwhile, the patient died a natural death a month ago.

Zalak Patel, transfusion medicine specialist at Red Cross Society, Ahmedabad, told IANS that O, A, B and AB are the common blood groups found in human bodies. “There are more than 40 blood systems like Rh and Duffy and more than 350 antigens connected with red cells. EMM is kind of a high-frequency antigen, which is very much common to find. But this patient did not have EMM in his blood,” Patel said.

EMM antigens are antibodies that develop naturally in the human body. There are nine globally registered persons in the world with EMM negative blood type. Now, a 10th person from Gujarat has been added to that list.

Ripal Shah, medical director at Prathama Laboratory in Ahmedabad, said that the patient had AB+ blood group, which was cross-checked with 40 to 50 samples which the lab had.

“We tried various techniques available in India to match his blood. I realised there was something strange with his blood. We also matched his blood with his son and daughter’s samples. But that did not work either. So we sent the sample to New York.”

Shah said it took more than a year for the New York lab to come to a conclusion. “The process also got delayed due to the Covid pandemic. In between, the doctors gave him medicines to increase the haemoglobin level. While the haemoglobin level increased, the patient was not in a condition to undergo the surgery, so the doctors postponed it. He also got infected by Covid. He died a natural death a month ago,” Shah said.