With plans for procuring licence for Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) afoot, the state-run St George’s hospital will finally be able to preserve around 44 litres of plasma that otherwise goes waste every month.
According to Dr J B Bhavani, medical superintendent of the hospital, the proposal for FFP was sent to the state government for approval in 2012. “We will require a refrigerated centrifuge, a deep freezer with -50° C temperature and plasma thawing bath. The hospital already has a thawing bath and -30° C deep freezer, but refrigerated centrifuge has to be purchased.”
According to Bhavani, the refrigerated centrifuge costs around Rs 25 lakh and plasma thawing bath Rs 3-4 lakh.
St George’s has been in dire need of preserving plasma after it first started free treatment of thalassaemia in 1989. “A single patient needs transfusion thrice in a month. Since their red blood count (RBC) is low, we transfer only the RBC components and discard the remnant, which is primarily plasma,” said Dr Kinjalka Ghosh, head of thalassaemia unit in the hospital.
Plasma has to be transported to a proper storage facility within 24 hours, but in the absence of a facility to do so, the hospital had to let go of 43,750 ml of plasma every month.
The hospital has received five bids for the refrigerated centrifuge. Once the facility is started, the preserved plasma can be used for multiple purposes.
As plasma has coagulation factors (ability to form a clot to stop bleeding or heal a wound), it can be used during cardiac bypass, intravascular coagulation or for patients who are bleeding profusely.
The hospital currently has 86 patients registered for treatment of thalassaemia, of whom more than 50 per cent are children. The blood bank in the hospital stores around 450-500 bottles per month, of which around 250 bottles are utilised for thalassaemia.