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Doctor with Dramatic Discovery - Dr.Y. M. Bhende

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

We all know blood groups like A,B,O, and AB as blood types (also known as phenotypes). Would you believe that there is another blood group which falls out of this classification?

It is so rare that only 4 persons out of one million possess this Blood Group in world.

This blood group is called Bombay Blood Group (also known as hh Blood Group) since it was discovered by an Indian Doctor in Bombay.

This brilliant doctor was Dr. Y. M. Bhende, who was also dean of B.J. Medical College in later years. He discovered this blood Group along with his two colleagues, Dr. G. K. Deshpande and Dr. H. M. Bhatia in Mumbai's K.E.M. Hospital's (G.S. Medical) Pathology Department.

Dr. Y. M. Bhende
Dr. Y. M. Bhende

The year was 1952 when he was working with G.S. Medical College. The discovery was published by a note in the prestigious "Lancet" journal in their May 1952 issue. They acknowledged the findings and Dr. Bhende was credited with this discovery.

Lancet is the bible of medical literature and platform for all global medical developments and publications and path breaking medical findings.

Dr. Bhende graduated from Grant Medical College in 1935. He did his resident-ship in Medicine, and between 1937 and 1939 he was tutor for Microbiology and Pathology. He completed his M.D. in Medicine in 1940 from Grant Medical College. Later, he finished his second M.D. in Pathology in 1945 from G.S.Medical College, an affiliate of K.E.M. Hospital.

Even today it is a rare feat of acquiring two M.D.'s in two different disciplines by any Doctor.

K.E.M's Pathology department was set up in 1926 by legendary Dr. R. S. Khanolkar, who is considered "Father Of Pathology " in India. So discovering this blood Group there was befitting accolade to this prestigious Institution.

Dr. Bhende worked as Assistant Professor of Pathology in G.S.Medical College upto 1959. He also was Asst.Professor for microbiology and Pathology for almost 11 years, in B.J.Medical College -Ahmedabad ,and rose to the position of Head Of Pathology Department. He went to U.K.with Nuffield Foundation fellowship to study Haematology for a year. Then he shifted to Pune,and took up a job with B.J.Medical College as Professor Of Pathology and became Head Of The Pathology Department. He also worked with K.E.M. Hospital Pune for two years. With his repute and stature he became Dean Of B.J.Medical College in 1968, and worked till 1969 when he retired.

Dr. Bhende then started his own medical practice in Pune as a Pathologist.

He has a book on Pathology with two other associates to his credit. This book is considered comprehensive in content and prescribed as a text book of Pathology.

During his practice he was also a consulting pathologist for Bandorewala Leprosy Hospital in Kondhwa, which is only hospital dedicated to Leprosy Patients.

He had many accolades to his credit like, President Of " Indian Association Of Pathology" (1960)

Founder Editor of "Medical Journal Of Western India" (1968)

Founder Fellow Of "Maharashtra Academy Of Science" (1971)

Today, India has only 250+ registered Bombay Blood Group persons, out of which only 20 to 25 are active at a time. In Asia and South East Asia there is some occurrence of this blood group. Consanguineal Marriages ( marrying within close family) is considered as one of the reasons. India has a rate of 0.01% of occurrence, meaning 1 person in every 10,000 person has Bombay Blood Group. This blood Group is deficient in H antigen on red blood corpuscles. Hence person with Bombay Blood Group can accept blood only from another person with same Blood Group and not from anybody from A,B,O or AB type blood Groups. However they can donate blood to other blood Groups viz.A,B,O and AB

Since fresh blood of this rare blood Group has limited shelf life (35 to 45 days) and demand is limited, it is not possible to store this blood in blood banks.This makes it critical requirement of a needy person,and prompt action is imperative in emergency.

Lately, one Mr.Vinay Kulkarni (who is donor of hh blood Group) traveled 1700 Kms. from Mumbai to Jharkhand in 24 hrs. This was done to save an old woman with Bombay Blood Group, in Rourkela fighting for life. In 1971. a Colombian needed the blood of this Group, and there was not a single person in Columbia of this group so, on emergency basis Blood was flown in from Brazil. Such is the rarity of this phenotype.

The Turning point of a Blowood Vidya Balan movie "Kahani" is pivoted around Bombay Blood Group as the mystery buster leading to the perpetrator. Today there are support groups formed in India Of hh blood Group, who facilitate blood transfusion process between nearest donor and needy recipient across India.

Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner discovered blood phenotypes of A, B, O, AB in Vienna University in 1900, for which he received the coveted Nobel prize.

Dr. Bhende discovered hh blood Group in 1952 . A man who made India proud, and a man who still continues to save many lives even posthumously. Every life saved due to his discovery, are a thousand tributes to this great Doctor, Discoverer and Dean.

Interestingly he also passed 3 examinations of Hindi Language.

A perpetual student at heart, excellent teacher by profession, and globally acknowledged discoverer; That is what Dr. Yeshvant Madhav Bhende was. He breathed his last in 1998, in Pune.

(Inputs -Courtesy:- Uday and Pratibha Bhende )

Foot Note :- In 2017 another blood Group was discovered in Surat by Dr. Sanmukh Joshi and his team of 9 Doctors, confirmed by W.H.O. As new blood Group Called "INRA"

"IN" in the acronym stands for India and "RA"standing for first two letters of person's name. There are only 12 persons in the world found so far, but this group is presumably under validation,I guess. In such case an Indian can be the discoverer of another rare blood Group.

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