A 23-year-old pregnant woman in Tamil Nadu’s Virudhunagar contracted HIV allegedly after being transfused contaminated blood in early December. State health secretary J Radhakrishnan said the woman has been shifted to Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai for advanced treatment and will undergo further tests to reaffirm presence of the virus.
Radhakrishnan, who had rushed to Virudhunagar after the incident was reported, Wednesday told The Indian Express that services of three officials had been terminated for negligence.
According to sources, the incident came to light after the donor informed the blood bank at Sivakasi government hospital that a new blood test, conducted after he had donated blood in November there, had found him positive for the virus.
A laboratory, which had examined the donated blood, had allegedly failed to trace the presence of the virus during a mandatory screening procedure. According to set procedure, donated blood has to be mandatorily screened for at least five diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and malaria, while a donor must undergo counselling. The laboratory is reportedly owned by a private party on a government contract.
Asserting that termination of the service of three officials — a lab technician, a counsellor and a concerned medical officer — was an “immediate action”, Radhakrishnan said a detailed inquiry has also been ordered into the series of procedures that were undertaken in the case.
The state health department, meanwhile, ruled out chances that the donor was on a window period during his blood donation last month. The window period is a time when a person can be infected with HIV and be very infectious, but still test HIV negative.
A preliminary probe has found that he had tested positive for the virus earlier in August 2016, when he had donated blood at an event. “His blood was then found infected with virus and was discarded. However, the officials had failed to follow up the case and inform him to pursue treatment,” Radhakrishnan said.
He said that advanced tests were being conducted on both the woman and the donor to verify the HIV results. “We have also made arrangements to avail best treatment and medicines for the woman. Her expected delivery date is January 30. Keeping her and the baby secure is our first priority. A medical team has already been appointed to ensure her safety,” Radhakrishnan said.
He added that the government is ready to shift her to any advanced medical facility and is willing to bear all the expenses.
Earlier, talking to the media, the family members of the woman urged the state government to take immediate steps for her safety.
Tamil Nadu, which holds the record for maximum voluntary blood donations annually, has an average of 8 lakh donors. Fifty per cent of blood donations are done in government hospitals.
Assuaging fear and suspicion among people about blood transfusions, the state health secretary said that the government and the state AIDS Control Society coordinates an “efficient and safe system”.
Opposition leader M K Stalin, meanwhile, urged the health department to order a screening of blood units already in the stock of Tamil Nadu blood banks. The CPM state unit also sought compensation of Rs 1 crore for the victim.