Cast(e) in Science
Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
A few days ago someone on Twitter posted a query, asking whether it was necessary to match the caste of a donor with the recipient in case of blood transfusion or bone marrow transplant. Of course i was outraged at the very proposition, reason being the blatant misuse of Science to carry out unreasonable propaganda.
The thought of even using the guise of tissue graft rejection to feed people cock and bull stories about caste and reinforce prejudices into ill-informed minds, filled me with anathema.
Our body is a collective repertoire of several systems which work together to ensure we lead a healthy, disease free life. However, just like cross border terrorists trying to infiltrate our country, our body plays host to rather large number of microbes, which often can lead to diseases. Our army of blood cells (which constitute the immune system) protects against such attacks.
For our body, anything that comes from outside is treated as a “foreign particle” and the immune system unleashes its wrath on it. This makes organ transplant or blood transfusion very difficult process. Unless there is a “match”, there are chances the recipient’s system will reject the donor’s organ/blood.
For blood transfusion, we know, the blood group match is essential. The human species is divided into four blood groups according to the ABO convention – A, B, O, AB. This classification is purely based on the presence of a certain type of carbohydrate on the red blood cell surface. Along with the ABO, presence (or the lack of) Rhesus factor adds finesse to the matching process.
Tissue transplant is a more complex process. For grafting, the level of “match” is at the level of “Major Histocompatibility Complex” in the leucocytes. These complexes carry the “Human Leucocyte Antigen” which determines the degree of “match” and chances of graft rejection. Tissue grafting is of four major types –
a. A tissue is taken from the body of the recipient itself (autograft)
b. The tissue is taken from a genetically identical person (isograft)
c. The donor and recipient belong to the same species (allograft)
d. Tissue/Organ from a member of different species is given to the patient (xenograft)
This basic knowledge of tissue grafting is enough for any rational person to refute the suggestion that caste plays any role is success of tissue grafting or organ transplantation. As long as one belongs to the same species, caste or any other such considerations make hardly any difference.
So my sincere request to all those who sign up for a blood donation or organ transplant program would be to desist from fanning caste considerations and let your scientific prudence prevail.
About Agnivo NiyogiTypical Aantel, reader, blogger, news addict, opinionated. Digital media enthusiast. Didi fanboi. Joy Bangla!
Posted on February 5, 2012, in Personal Musings, Social Issues and tagged Blood Typing, Bone Marrow Transplant, Caste, HLA, India, MHC, Science, Superstition, Tissue Grafting. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.