More than a month after Punjab government inaugurated its first plasma bank at the Patiala Government Medical College and Hospital on July 2, the facility had only managed 12 donors till Sunday.
As per official data, 45 persons, who had recovered from the infection, were tested and 20 out of them had antibodies, while only 18 were found fit to donate the plasma. But only 12 donations have been made so far. Sources said officials were motivating remaining six who were fit for donation.
The age of the recovered patient, whether it is more than 60 and less than 18, and co-morbid conditions are among the factors where plasma of the recovered patient is not considered for transfusion.
As the debate over efficacy of plasma transfusion for the treatments of Covid-19 continues, Patiala Plasma Bank nodal officer Dr Vishal Chopra, who is a professor and heads pulmonary department of TB Hospital, Patiala, said, “Just like people are afraid of blood donation, not many are coming forward for plasma donation. Currently all therapies are experimental, be it administering Remdesivir or any other medication. Similar is the case with plasma donation. But, we request the recovered patients to come forward for plasma donation as all therapies are being used.”
Dr Chopra added, “We have some more donors who are lined up as they are about to complete 28 days since they recovered from the infection.”
One donation translates into two units of plasma measuring 200 ml each. The plasma bank at Patiala has so far collected 24 units out of which it issued ten to private hospitals three to Patiala Medical College and Hospital and one to another government hospital. Initially, one unit is transfused and if required another unit is transfused to the patient.
Plasma in one of the government hospital and couple of the private hospitals was yet to be transfused, said an official.
The official said the majority of private hospitals were not very forthcoming in sharing information whether the plasma transfusion resulted in recovery or not. He added that at least in two cases, where Plasma Bank, Patiala provided the plasma to private hospitals, the patients who underwent transfusion could not survive.
Dr Chopra said that at a couple of private hospitals who were provided with plasma, it was yet to be used. In one case, the family of the patient while raising concerns about its efficacy decided against using it. “The plasma is still with that private hospital as it could be preserved and used later,” said Dr Chopra, adding that plasma transfusion was effective in moderately ill patients and was not much effective for persons with advanced stage of infection. This, he said, could be the reason that the patients could not survive in private hospitals as they might have been given therapy in advanced stage of illness.
In Amritsar Government Medical College, seven persons had donated plasma till Sunday. Three patients were given plasma therapy in government hospitals and two in private hospitals. According to Dr Neeraj Sharma, the incharge of Blood Bank at Government Medical College, Amritsar, the three patients who were given therapy at government hospitals recovered, and the remaining two at private hospital could not survive. She also said, “The patients there were given the therapy at advanced stage of illness and could not survive.”
In Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital Faridkot, six persons have donated plasma till now, out of which two were given therapy in government hospitals and one in a private hospital. A government doctor involved in transfusion said the two patients in question were given therapy under the Indian Medical Council and Research (ICMR) pilot project and had recovered. The status of plasma therapy in the private hospital was not clear.
Meanwhile, Punjab Civil Services officers and policemen are among those who have come forward offering to donate plasma after recovery, a government functionary said. He added that by and large people were not coming forward voluntarily to donate plasma.
Dr Chopra said majority of plasma donors in Patiala Plasma Bank were policemen in the ranks of constables and head constables, apart from a businessman and his son, who is an advocate.
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