Gujarat man’s blood sample does not match groups, discovered to be super rare EMM negative blood group

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The 11th instance worldwide, and the first so far in India, of a person having the ‘EMM Negative’ blood was discovered recently in Gujarat’s Rajkot after a heart patient discovered his sample did not match any conventional blood group.

Rajkot: In a first, an extremely rare blood group was recently identified in a Gujarat man. It was only when a 65-year-old heart patient, a resident of Rajkot, went for a heart operation that it was revealed that he had the ‘EMM negative’ blood group – marking the first instance of the group being identified in India, and the 11th such instance worldwide so far.

Human blood, usually falling under categories such as ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘O’, ‘AB positive’, etc, contains a red-cell component, EMM, a phenotype that is found in many ‘high-frequency antigens’. The man in question, however, was surprised when he was unable to find blood matching his blood group for cardiac surgery back in 2020.

With subsequent samples sent to Surat and eventually to the US, results hinted at the EMM component missing from the sample. Speaking about the incident, Dr Ripal Shah, Director of a blood bank in Ahmedabad, noted that the results initially did not match any blood type.

“When this case came up, the blood of this category was not there in blood banks of Rajkot. The same was the situation in Ahmedabad. Human blood contains Red Blood Cells. When the results came, it displayed less than one level of red blood cells,” she said.

Shah, alongside Snehal Senjalia, and Sanmukh Joshi, featured the rare blood type in a paper published in the Asian Journal of Transfusion Science. The paper noted that the man required a transfusion for his coronary artery bypass grafting surgery, but the blood group determination was turning out to be unsuccessful.

Dr Sanmukh Joshi explained that the issue arose out of the total absence of EMM. “It is a component which is found in almost all red blood cells. The total absence of it made it difficult,” she said. Dr Joshi also observed that the man had not previously undergone blood transfusion, concluding that the process had occurred by itself. Joshi also said that the 65-year-old’s blood group was not visible in any close family member of his, including either his children or his brother.

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