Three months after it began operations for plasma donations in Mumbai, Nair Hospital on Friday received its 100th plasma donation. The 100th donor was Dr Anjaneya Agashe, who had suffered from the infection and lost his father to coronavirus. This was the third time that he donated plasma.
As awareness gradually grows, doctors said more and more recovered patients are stepping forward to donate for other critically infected patients. Plasma of recovered patients has antibodies that neutralises coronavirus. As part of the ICMR trial, the hospital has transfused plasma in over 40 patients.
A city ophthalmologist, Dr Agashe has pledged to keep donating plasma till his antibodies level is high. Dr Agashe (54) fell ill around May 11. Agashe would only visit his Mahim clinic and Dhanvantri Hospital in Shivaji Park for emergency cases. He suspects he may have been infected from one of his patients. “I developed a fever for three days, and irritation in my throat. That’s it, and I recovered. But my father fell severely ill,” he said. His father, aged 89, tested positive for Covid-19 in Sion hospital. His wife and son also tested positive days later.
The three of us overcame the infection, but my father succumbed. A friend told me to donate plasma so that others like my father could survive,” Agashe said. He and his 21-year-old son donated plasma on June 13. Since women with a history of pregnancy are not eligible, his wife was unable to donate. A recovered patient can donate once every fortnight. Agashe has donated thrice, latest on Friday, in Nair hospital.
Dr Jayanthi Shastri, head of microbiology department in Nair hospital, said they are using chemiluminescent assay (CLIA) technique to measure level of antibodies in recovered patients. “Donors with index level above 3 are selected for donating,” she said. The hospital was the first in the city to start plasma therapy as part of ICMR trial. BMC procured an apheresis machine to extract plasma on April 17.
“With help of volunteers and NGOs we have managed to get 100 donors,” she said. BMC tied up with NGO Covid Yoddha in April and then Mumbai Dhadkan in mid-June to counsel potential donors. Dr Swapnil Parikh, heading Covid Yoddha, said, “There are some challenges, apart from convincing people, we needed funding to transport donors, to find eligible donors.” Parikh is also working with the Maharashtra government to look for plasma donors. Those with other illnesses, history of pregnancy or comorbidity like diabetes or hypertension are not eligible for donation. Parikh said that leaves them with a small pool of recovered patients.
Maharashtra has 3.16 lakh recovered Covid patients, of that over 92,000 are from Mumbai. Covid Yoddha has 14 staffers, of them eight doctors, who make daily calls to recovered patients asking them to volunteer for donations. Parikh said they notice a conversion rate of 5-10 per cent, with 100 donors found after making over a 1,000 calls.
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