A week ago, when nursing officer Bhanu Sharma was on duty at Lok Nayak Hospital’s Covid-19 ICU, he got a call from a young patient’s husband that made the 30-year-old tear up — and sign up for plasma donation. “The patient is in her 30s… her husband requested me to somehow save her as they have a two-year-old daughter. I have a daughter of the same age too. I realised that apart from Covid duty, I must do everything else possible to save lives,” said Sharma, who had tested positive for the virus on June 13.
On Monday, he donated plasma for the first time at Lok Nayak, where he has been working at since 2014. “I was hospitalised as I had trouble breathing and fever… I have been on that bed so I know what it feels like. Donating plasma was the most obvious decision,” said Sharma.
For the last three days, Lok Nayak’s nursing officers have been donating plasma at a camp organised by the Nurses’ Union, said union head Jeemol Shaji. “Over 90 nursing officers tested positive while on duty serving Covid patients. All those who recovered and fit the donation criterion are doing their bit. We hope to inspire more people to come forward,” said Shaji.
Among the donors was nursing officer Surendra Kumar Yadav (31), who was asymptomatic and recovered by mid-June. A father of two, Yadav said, “While on Covid duty, I heard of young patients succumbing to the virus, some didn’t get plasma therapy… I know the success of the therapy is debatable but if my plasma can save even one life, I will consider myself lucky.”
Yadav decided that as soon as he develops enough antibodies, he would donate plasma. On Monday, he was the first in line.
On Wednesday, it was nursing officer Pradeep Barwar’s turn to donate plasma. The 33-year-old had recovered mid-June but the death of a few acquaintances due to Covid shook him up: “I can’t say if they would have survived if plasma was given but I had to do my bit for others. I will donate again if I get the chance.”
The camp also saw a nursing officer from Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday. Athul Ravi (26) joined Safdarjung on May 30 and tested positive for the virus on June 23. After recovering and rejoining duty, Ravi got to know of a patient — from his home state, Kerala — who needed plasma. “We have a WhatsApp group of Keralites and someone posted about the patient and asked if I could donate. So I went to donate,” he said.
In a bid to bridge the gap between Covid patients and plasma donors, a WhatsApp group called ‘Abhayam’ (meaning ‘shelter’ in Malayalam), comprising 200 nursing officers and other staff at AIIMS, has come to their rescue.
Coordinator Joseph C T (41) said, “The group has been active for a few months now and was aimed at providing help to needy patients outside AIIMS; then we realised there was a lack of blood in blood banks, so we started coordinating that. For a few weeks now, we have been helping patients get plasma.”
In the group, messages of “plasma needed” are shared, and nurses who have recovered donate or spread the word.
“Last week, an AIIMS nurse donated plasma and so did his brother, who is not an AIIMS employee… We want more people to come forward,” said Joseph.
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