Blood is a specialized body fluid that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells, and transports waste products away from those same cells. Blood comprises more than 8% of the body weight of a healthy individual.
On an average, every adult person has about 5 to 6 litres of blood. The major component of blood is a fluid called plasma in which has suspended cellular elements. These are Red Blood Cells or RBCs, White Blood Cells or WBCs and platelets.
Plasma – About 55% of whole blood is, a fluid that is the blood’s liquid medium, which by itself is straw-yellow in colour. It has protein components called albumin, globulin and fibrinogen. Broadly speaking, albumin maintains the structural balance of blood, globulin builds resistance to bacterial infections, and fibrinogen helps blood coagulation.
Red Cells carry oxygen from the lungs to various body tissues and take back carbon dioxide from the cells and tissues which the body gets rid of as exhaled air. The basic substance of red cells is iron and protein, known as haemoglobin. The haemoglobin count is an indicator of the health of blood. On an average, a healthy male should have 14 – 16 gm / dl and in a female around 12 – 14 gm / dl.
White cells act mainly as body scavengers and guards. They help in the immune system of the body and act as defence forces of the body, killing bacteria or any other organisms entering the body.
Platelets help in the clotting and coagulation of blood. They also repair the tiny blood vessels in the body which crack under pressure, thereby preventing haemorrhages under the skin.
An Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner first discovered ABO blood group system in 1900. He was awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology of medicine in 1930 for his work. Landsteiner described A, B and O, Alfred Vondecastello and Andriano Sturli discovered the fourth type AB in 1902.
Although all blood is made of the same basic elements, not all blood is alike. In fact, there are eight different common blood types, which are determined by the presence or absence of certain antigen substances that can trigger an immune response if they are foreign to the body. Since some antigens can trigger a patient’s immune system to attack the transfused blood, safe blood transfusions depend on careful blood typing and cross-matching.
There are four major blood groups determined by the presence or absence of two antigens A and B on the surface of red blood cells:
Group A has only the A antigen on red cells (and B antibody in the plasma)
Group B has only the B antigen on red cells (and A antibody in the plasma)
Group AB has both A and B antigens on red cells (but neither A nor B antibody in the plasma)
Group O has neither A nor B antigens on red cells (but both A and B antibody are in the plasma)
In addition to the A and B antigens, there is a third antigen called the Rh factor, which can be either present (+) or absent. In general, Rh negative blood is given to Rh-negative patients, and Rh positive blood or Rh negative blood may be given to Rh positive patients.
Bombay Blood Group: This is very rare group and discovered in Bombay (Mumbai). Bombay Blood group is when in an individual of group ‘O’ shows of absence of substance ‘H’ (which is present in all group people). This person can donate its red blood cells to any group individual but must receive blood only from other Bombay Blood group person.
Incidence of this group is about 4 per million (i.e. 0.0004%). In Bombay the incidence is as much as 1 in 10,000 (i.e. 0.01 %).
They lack ABH antigens and have anti A, anti B and anti H antibodies.
Blood Donors – Indian Scenario
India faces a whooping blood deficit of approximate 30 – 35%. The country needs around 8 to 10 million units of blood every year but manages a measly 5.5 units. On top of it there exists mind boggling gender disparity among blood donors. 94 % of blood donations in country are made by men while women contribute only 6 %, as reported in the WHO global database on blood safety updated in June 2011. As per WHO standards India demands for blood and blood components should be 1 % of the population. According to studies by Ministry of Health and Family welfare as on Dec 2011, there are 2545 licensed blood banks in India with 1549 private and 996 Government blood banks.
Detailed state wise analysis shows that Maharashtra at 290 tops the chart with maximum number of blood banks followed by Tamilnadu at 273 and Andhra Pradesh at 270 respectively.
However the silver lining is that India reports the greatest increase in the number of voluntary blood donations from 3.6 million in 2007 to 4.6 million in 2008. The WHO’s goal for all countries to obtain all blood supplies from VOLUNTARY UNPAID BLOOD DONORS by 2020.
Jankalyan Blood Bank supplies blood whole and sole only through voluntary blood donors.