Days after a woman in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, contracted HIV through blood transfusion at a government hospital, a second woman has come forward, claiming she was infected by the virus while pregnant after blood transfusion at Chennai’s state-run Kilpauk Medical College (KMC).
However, the KMC administration has claimed they have “99 per cent” ruled out the complaint, stating that they have tested one of two donors who had donated the blood when the woman had undergone a blood transfusion in the hospital in April. The second donor couldn’t be traced by authorities. However, her baby has not been infected by the virus, according to preliminary tests after birth.
Talking to The Indian Express, the woman, who lives in the suburbs of Chennai, said she had raised multiple complaints with the hospital authorities and sent petitions to the state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan in early last month, seeking justice after she was detected with virus.
“I did not receive any reply from them. My attempts to meet the dean of KMC also was failed as they stopped me whenever I sought an appointment. I was HIV-negative when I had tested my blood sample in March 2018. I don’t have money to file a case against the government now. Neither I had the courage. I am fully shattered now as even my close relatives and own sisters have abandoned me now. They haven’t even touched my baby after delivery as they learnt that I am HIV-positive,” the woman said.
Going by her medical records, the woman sought consultation at a public health centre (PHC) near her house in February, complaining of her menustral irregularities. In March, she had to return to the PHC citing health problems, and a blood test done in a private laboratory found that she was anaemic with haemoglobin levels far below standards. She was immediately referred to KMC for blood transfusion.
“I spent about 14 days in the hospital, where I had two units of blood transfusion including one on the day of admission, April 5, and the second transfusion another day. I also had about 10 injections for anaemia. I was five months pregnant then. After the blood transfusion, my haemoglobin levels improved and I was discharged,” the woman said.
While her expected delivery date was on September 26, a medical scan taken as per the direction of the nearby PHC on eighth month of pregnancy found that the foetus had a complication. She was referred to KMC again on August 18.
As an outpatient, she was asked to go for a blood test, which found she was HIV-positive. Soon, her husband was also called in for a blood test and he was HIV-negative. Records show that KMC started ART (an Antiretroviral Therapy to prevent the virus growth) on her from August 20. “I was heartbroken. When I denied having any other sexual relationships to the doctors when they probed, they themselves said that it could have been infected from the blood transfusions. In between, we went to a private hospital to verify the KMC results but the result was HIV-positive,” she said.
She delivered her baby on September 15, and multiple tests on the baby proved that he was not infected of virus. “I couldn’t even feed my son. He has three more tests in coming months to rule out any chances of getting the virus,” she said. Her elder son is five years old.
Reacting to woman’s complaint that she got the virus due to blood transfusion, Dr P Vasanthamani, dean of KMC, said they have already probed the matter on direction from the Directorate of Medical Education after the woman sent complaints to the minister and the health secretary.
“We have tested her husband who was found free from virus. She was given two units blood during the transfusion sessions, which were donated in a blood donation camp. We traced one of the donors, a college student, and he was tested negative again,” she said. Claiming that KMC has 4th Generation Elisa Test procedures, which is used for the early detection of HIV virus, she said the screening test results of the donors were far below the positive value during the screening before transfusion.
“The second donor whose blood was used for her couldn’t be traced as his phone remains switched off. Our inquiry confirms that the hospital procedures had no lapses, I would say 99 per cent. Just 1 per cent remains as a question as the second donor couldn’t be traced,” Vasanthamani said.