Bombay Phenotype

If you have the Bombay phenotype, you can be forgiven for considering yourself royalty. They are rare. So much so that they can be regarded as blue-blooded. We will find out shortly whether this is a blessing or a curse. The Bombay Phenotype is a blood group. More accurately the absence of one. Discovered in Bombay, these were people who didn’t seem to fall in any of the standard categories. A, B, O or AB. What is funny is that not very long ago we didn’t even know that we had blood types. It was all considered to be the same. Yes, kings proclaimed themselves to be descended from God. I suppose that gave them a rare blood type. Even a brave physician of that era would not venture to argue. It was better to let the old fool believe that he was, instead of risking decapitation.

The first time blood transfusion was performed between a cow and a human. The latter promptly died. Later when transfusion from one human to another was tried the response was similar. It was almost two centuries later that research revealed that humans had dissimilar blood groups. They didn’t mix. It was Karl Landsteiner who discovered and named the human blood groups. Later it was discovered that our ancestors, the apes, too had blood types. So much for the fancy notions of the king. Unless of course, he was monkey king, no offence.

So what of the Bombay blood group? Now labelled the h/h group it is a highly rare blood type. One in which the standard groups have failed to express traits. As a result, they cannot be recipients of blood. Other than from people who have the same type. They can, however, donate blood to everyone. Curse or blessing? Well, that depends on how generously you feel toward humanity, doesn’t it?


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.