Wed, Jul 22, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Timely blood test may have saved a life

BRUSH WITH DEATH:A Nantou County woman, who thought she was blood type O, was found to have the rarest type, Bombay phenotype hh, just before surgery

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

People forgetting or being uncertain about their blood type is far from scarce, but it almost cost a 50-year-old woman from Nantou County her life were it not for a timely blood test.

Chiu Li-kuei (邱麗桂), a Nantou Hospital medical technologist, spoke about the incident on the sidelines of an awards ceremony held by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Taipei yesterday morning to honor 50 medical specialists, including Chiu, for their special dedication and stellar achievements.

The 50 recipients were selected from 1,986 medical personnel at 26 hospitals nationwide.

“The woman always thought that she was blood type O, a belief reinforced by a lack of discomfort after she was transfused with type O blood following a traffic accident two decades ago,” Chiu said.

Two years ago, Chiu said the patient came to the hospital to undergo bone surgery and a preoperative blood test found that her blood was not the classic type O.

A further test discovered that the woman actually had the rarest blood type, Bombay phenotype hh, Chiu said, adding that irregular antibodies were also detected in her body that could have been produced after the blood transfusion 20 years previously.

“If she had been given classic type O blood during the surgery, the woman could have suffered a potentially fatal red blood cell rupture, also known as a hemolytic reaction,” Chiu said.

According to the Taiwan Blood Services Foundation, Bombay phenotype hh has an incidence rate of one in 10,000 people and is commonly mistaken for type O.

“Like the classic blood group, the Bombay blood group can also be divided into four types — O, A, B and AB. As of last year, 66 people in the nation were known to have type A Bombay phenotype blood, 61 with type B, 51 with type O and 11 with type AB,” foundation official Li Lei (黎蕾) said.

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