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September 15, 1971: Rare blood type found by GV doctor

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November 01, 2017

Numurkah blood donor Mr James Smith, 66, gives a pint of his rare Ko blood at Goulburn Valley Base Hospital. Right is Dr. Norman Young, the pathologist who “discovered” Mr Smith. The nurse is sister Dianne Lockwood.

Doctors at Canberra Community Hospital were yesterday able to transfuse a seriously ill man only because the Blood Reference Laboratory in Melbourne was able to match his blood with that of Mr James Smith of Numurkah.

Mr Smith’s rare Ko blood – only about 13 examples are known in the world – was discovered by the head pathologist at Goulburn Valley Base Hospital, Dr Norman Young.

Dr Young first discovered the Ko group in Mr Smith’s sister Mrs Eileen Lynch.

The findings were recorded on the rare donor panel common to hospital blood banks throughout the world.

Dr Young said the sick man’s blood serum had been examined in Sydney and Melbourne.

Following talks with Melbourne experts, Dr Young made arrangements to have Mr Smith brought to Shepparton by Goulburn Valley ambulance service.

The ambulance, at about 9.20 am took a pint of Mr Smith’s blood to Shepparton aerodrome where it was placed aboard Executive Airlines air ambulance and flown to Canberra.

Goulburn Valley Ambulance officer Mr Dick James and Station Officer Ian Boulton deliver the blood in its chilled container to Air Ambulance nurse Sister Loretta Shiels, formerly of Katamatite.

By coincidence the Sister in charge on the air ambulance was Mooroopna Base Hospital trained nurse Loretta Shiels from Katamatite.

Dr Young said the rare blood type Ko was one of about 14 blood group systems.

The designation signified an absence of Kell factors.

In the case of the Canberra man his blood contained a rare antibody which made it incompatible with blood of the same group.

However it was virtually certain that Mr Smith’s blood would be compatible with the antibody.

“The Ko blood appears to be the only one that will match,” he said.

Mr Smith, who is 66 is the uncle of Australian champion tennis player Mrs Margaret Court.

Others of his blood group are listed in London, Toronto and Amsterdam.

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