Updated: February 21, 2021 3:03:59 am
On Saturday, Ajay Munot (50), a Pune-based social worker, donated blood plasma for the ninth time – perhaps the highest in the city so far. “I had hoped to donate on my birthday three days ago when I turned 50, but I was told to wait as the last donation was on February 5. There has to be a 14-day interval,” Munot said.
Infected with Covid-19 in July 2020, he recovered after a month and decided to help others and started donating plasma. Before Saturday, the Kothrud resident had donated plasma eight times – August 26, September 9, September 24, October 12, October 28, December 31, January 21 and February 5. His latest donation was at Sahyadri Hospital. “I’m fine,” he added.
Convalescent plasma therapy has been used since the early 1900s to treat emerging infectious disease. Plasma is the yellowish liquid component of blood that holds the blood cells in suspension. It is a source of antibodies against infection. To donate plasma for Covid-19 patients, a donor must have a documented history of his/her own coronavirus contraction. The donor should also be healthy for 28 days since experiencing symptoms for the last time.
Dr Poornima Rao, senior consultant with Sahyadri Hospital’s blood bank, said the demand for plasma is still high. “Bone marrow stimulation helped Munot maintain the stimulation of antibodies, considering all levels during the earlier eight procedures. As per the Food and Drug Administration’s criteria, the antibody levels are 4.51 today which is pretty good,” Dr Rao added.
Dr Abhijit More, who helped Munot when he was a patient, said: “We collected information, and in all likelihood, he was the sole person to have donated plasma for the ninth time.”
While the ongoing pandemic led to scaling up of CP therapy initially, the state medical education department’s ambitious Platina Trial was stopped in January. Dr Mohammed Faizal, the then state coordinator of the Platina project, told The Indian Express that on January 11, the Data Safety Monitoring Board decided to close the trial. Interim analysis of the data showed higher deaths in the group receiving plasma.
“The project had good intentions, but if it is causing more harm than good, then there was a need to stop the trial,” Dr Faizal added.
Earlier too, the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Phase II Open Label Randomised Controlled Trial to Assess the Safety and Efficacy of Convalescent Plasma trial had found CP ineffective in arresting Covid-19. There needs to be a detailed study on effectiveness of CP in moderate patients as there are anecdotal cases where this therapy has worked, Dr Faizal said.
However, convalescent plasma therapy has also saved lives when administered at the appropriate time. Dr Pradeep D’Costa, chief intensivist at KEM and Sahyadri Hospital, Nagar Road, said overall clinical impression has shown that if plasma is administered in a patient in time, it can prevent worsening of his/her health condition. “Trials have used CP too late; once you miss the window period, there is no role of plasma. Hence interventions at a late stage do not work. A patient’s condition has to be monitored and there is a short window period when he/she is shifting from mild to moderate disease so that plasma can play a role,” Dr D’Costa said.
Arun Thorat, director of the State Blood Transfusion Council, said the requirement for CP is not that high as it was earlier and it is based on the doctor’s discretion. Pune-based Ram Bangad, president of the Raktache Naate Trust, who donated blood 133 times, besides plasma, said he receives several calls daily from people and even from across the state, seeking plasma.
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