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The ​“Special red medicine” that saves people

TTH.VN - People with rare blood groups account for about 0.04% - 0.07% of the population. Rare blood is considered a "special red medicine" to treat "special" diseases that no other medicine can replace.

"Still being healthy, still donating blood"47 years old, 60 times of blood donationDozens of people registered to donate organs

 People with rare blood types are always ready to support the community

No matter day or night

Recently, Ngo V.T. (patient, 68 years old) in Hue city suffered from gastritis and acute GI bleeding and was admitted to the ICU of Hue Central Hospital. A packed red blood cell transfusion was prescribed, while Mr. T. had blood type O Rh (-). Receiving news from the Center for Hematology and Blood Transfusion, 4 members of the Hue Rare Blood Group Club immediately showed up.

Ms. Ngo Thi Quynh Trang, the daughter of Mr. T., was deeply moved: "The doctor called to inform us that my father has a rare blood type and we needed to find someone with a matching blood type. My three siblings and I have different blood types from my father, so we were all very worried. Eventually, my older brother decided to post on social media seeking help, and, luckily, we were connected to members of the Hue Rare Blood Type Club. Thank goodness, after receiving 4 units of packed red blood cells, my father's health has stabilized. Our family is very grateful to these individuals who didn't hesitate to donate blood even on holidays and traveled tens of kilometers to provide the blood.”

Among the four volunteers who came to donate rare blood to Mr. T., two were from Phong Dien. Even though they were busy with work, they traveled tens of kilometers to the hospital early.

Ms. Tran Thi Dieu Ly from Phong Son, Phong Dien, shared her thoughts: "Every time I receive information, I immediately arrange to come because saving lives is crucial. I empathize and understand those with this blood type because I have experienced similar situations myself."

 The female member of the rare blood group donating blood to save lives at Hue Central Hospital

Established since 2008, the Rare Blood Type Club in the province now has nearly 90 members, with 35-40 regularly active participants. Despite their diverse occupations and ages, everyone is always willing to donate blood to support patients in need. For them, responding to emergency calls from hospitals has become a familiar routine.

Ms. Mai Thi Diep Uyen, blood type O Rh (-) doing business in Thuy Bieu (Hue City) shared that she is very happy and proud to help people. “I studied medicine and like to donate blood, but when I discovered I had a special blood type, I had to wait for support in only emergencies. Once, I went out to Thanh Tan hot mineral water with my friends and received a call that I needed rare blood, hence I had to leave the party and rush to the hospital on time."

According to the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT), there are up to 43 red blood cell group systems with 376 different antigens, including the ABO system, Rh system, Kell system, Kidd system, Lewis system, and more. However, the most important are the ABO and Rhesus (Rh) systems. If a person has the D antigen on their red blood cells, they are called Rh positive (+); if they do not have the D antigen on their red blood cells, they are called Rh negative (-). In Vietnam, people with Rh (-) blood are very rare, often referred to as rare blood types, making up about 0.04%-0.07% of the population. Not only does it help fellow citizens receiving treatment in the Central - Central Highlands region, but the Hue Rare Blood Type Club also donates blood in time to save foreign patients. 

In July 2023, an 80-year-old Australian patient, Ian G.C., with A Rh (-) blood type, suffered a gastrointestinal bleeding and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Hue Central International Hospital. Members with A Rh (-) blood type came to the hospital at night to donate blood. Five units of red blood cells were transfused, helping the patient through the critical period. Subsequently, American patient Ryan M. L. developed sepsis and needed six units of red blood cells. Ryan M. L. was traveling, and upon returning to his hotel in the evening, he showed signs of difficulty breathing and was taken to Hue Central Hospital for emergency care.

Fortunately, thanks to the blood product reserves of the Hematology and Blood Transfusion Center, the patient was promptly transfused with red blood cells and platelets. Due to the large amount of O Rh (-) blood needed for transfusions, the center had to mobilize and call on blood donation clubs, including the Rare Blood Type Club.

Saving people – Helping oneself

Dr. Bui Minh Duc, Master of Medicine, Specialist Level II, Deputy Director of the Hematology and Blood Transfusion Center at Hue Central Hospital provided the information: "The characteristic of Rh (-) blood type is that it can donate blood to individuals with Rh (+) or Rh (-) blood types but can only receive blood from those with Rh (-) blood type. If a person with Rh (-) blood is not transfused with the same blood type, it can lead to blood transfusion complications." Establishing a club for people with this blood type to support treatment is very necessary.

So far, members have donated blood over 500 times, including many emergency donations at medical facilities. Many consider blood donation as a regular activity. At the Rare Blood Type Club, doctors guide members on how to monitor their health, promoting the spirit of mutual support when the community needs blood for treatment.

Mr. Nguyen Khac Tien from Kim Long ward, Hue City, has donated blood and platelets 10 times. He vividly remembers donating for a foreigner who came from Quang Nam to Hue because the hospital there did not have the rare blood type needed for treatment. Upon receiving the call at 11 PM, Mr. Tien immediately drove to Hue Central Hospital to donate platelets. After donating, he stayed at the hospital overnight and only went home in the morning. Knowing that he is among the few people with this blood type, he has sought additional information to build a proper diet and lifestyle, including running and swimming, to maintain his health.

“The club meetings help me raise awareness and provide opportunities to help many others in the network with the same blood type," Mr. Tiến said. 

During a recent meeting with new club members, we met twin sisters Ho Thi Dieu Huong and Ho Thi Dieu Hien from Lam Dot, A Luoi. During a blood donation session, doctors informed Huong that she belonged to a rare blood type, prompting her to persuade her sister to get tested as well. Since then, both sisters have become members of the club. With her rare blood type, Huong worries about emergencies where blood may not be readily available. When preparing for childbirth, Hương had to arrange to be transferred to Hue Central Hospital so medical staff could monitor and intervene in case of emergencies.

"At club meetings, we're always enthusiastic participants, even when they're held outside our province. Having good knowledge and taking good care of ourselves helps us avoid accidents and illnesses, reducing risks as much as possible. Joining the club not only allows us to donate blood to help others but also benefits ourselves," the twin sisters shared their feelings.

Mr. Hoang Vinh Phu, Vice President of the Provincial Red Cross Association and Head of the Rare Blood Type Club, shared: "Recently, our members have been very active. Some have donated blood 10-15 times, even in remote districts like Phu Loc and Phong Dien. This is a platform for socializing, meeting, and deepening discussions about rare blood types. In the near future, we plan to enhance our efforts to recruit and mobilize more people with rare blood types to join the club. This will help us manage and organize more practical activities, while also connecting with clubs for rare blood types nationwide to expand our support network when needed.

Along with their proactive efforts, those carrying the "special red medicine" still seek to connect and spread awareness further to benefit the community. "Over the past 10 years of voluntary blood donation across three provinces in the Central region, only 15 out of 100,000 people have rare blood types. Hue Central Hospital treats patients nationwide that urgently require blood supplies. We hope there will be research projects or initiatives to conduct screenings and trace the lineage of those with rare blood types, aiming to mobilize more individuals with these blood types for medical treatment," expressed a longstanding member of the club.

Story and photos: LINH GIANG
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