Even as authorities brace themselves for the post-lockdown stage, Vadodara is readying its front-line army of plasma donors from among those who have recovered from the viral infection. The Baroda Muslim Doctors Association (BMDA) has begun counselling around 90 patients who are currently recovering in the Ebrahim Bawany Industrial Training Institute at Ajwa Road in the city. Of these, 45 patients tested negative in the two consecutive confirmatory test after treatment on Wednesday.
BMDA, which is working closely with the district disaster management department for collection of samples in red zone areas, treatment and counselling of suspected patients, collected a total of 57 samples on Wednesday. Of these, 54 were for the second round of COVID-19 confirmatory tests of those who tested negative in the first round. Three samples were sent for retesting because they had been rejected. Late on Wednesday, 45 of these patients turned negative in the second confirmatory and will be discharged on Thursday and deemed “COVID-19 recoveries” in Vadodara. However, the BMDA has also tasked them with becoming plasma donors.
Dr Mohammad Hussain told The Indian Express, “We began counselling the patients a couple of days ago about being plasma donors. We have created audio visual campaigns… We first began explaining to people from our community the reasons why 25% of the people can be asymptomatic carriers. The general notion was that they were being forcefully handed out reports stating that they were positive. It has taken a lot of effort to reach a point where we have been able to allay the mistrust that the community has for the government agencies…”
The BMDA had also collected a sample of 79 patients — currently at ITI Ajwa — who have completed 14 days treatment as per protocol. Of these, 25 tested positive, 54 tested negative in the first test and three samples were rejected. Most of them belong to the Nagarwada ‘red zone’ containment area.
Dr Hussain said, “We are very hopeful that many of the 54 will test negative in the second confirmatory test and be discharged on Thursday… Once we are able to certify them as COVID-19 negative, we will hold a final counselling session and register them as plasma donors. We have been telling them that once they are negative, it means that their body has developed immunity to COVID-19 and their plasma could save the life of a person who may not have that immunity… The response has been very positive.”
Dr Hussain added, “We are waiting for the authorities to tell us when they need to start collecting the plasma. As soon as the patients have recovered, we will prepare a Statement Of Purpose to begin the collection for the bank,” he said.
Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao has initiated the process of registering GMERS Gotri as the plasma facility for Vadodara and central Gujarat. He said, “We have started the process of setting up plasma therapy facility in Vadodara, GMERS Gotri will develop it. We have sought necessary permissions from the state government and as soon as they arrive, we will begin the collection of plasma. Many patients are already available to help create a bank, it will be helpful in fighting the pandemic.”
Plasma therapy uses the blood component called plasma — which contains virus-fighting antibodies — from people who have recovered from COVID-19, which is then used to treat those who are severely ill with the viral infection. Plasma therapy has proved beneficial in countries such as China and the United States. Ahmedabad-based SVP hospital received approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research for using the procedure, where the first COVID-19 recovered patient donated plasma last week.
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