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Fatal shortage of platelets

india Updated: Oct 08, 2006 01:24 IST

Pushpa Chouhan was wheeled into the Lok Nayak Hospital on October 1, shivering with fever. The 23-year-old was diagnosed with dengue haemorrhagic fever, a severe form of dengue. She needed a transfusion of blood platelets. But the blood bank at the hospital was out of stock. On October 4, she died.

Pushpa's brother Angad says instead of giving her platelets, hospital doctors gave her whole blood, which was ineffective. "She could have been saved if the hospital had procured platelets from elsewhere," he says.

The doctors claim Pushpa died of complications that arose during her treatment. The hospital's additional medical superintendent, MS Chopra, flatly denied any shortage of platelets.

In dengue-hit Delhi — which has seen 18 deaths and 743 officially acknowledged dengue cases — very few government hospitals have platelet-separating machines. Safdarjung, Ram Manohar Lohia and Lok Nayak do, but even they have been referring patients to AIIMS.

When this reporter contacted the blood banks at all three hospitals, pretending to be a patient's relative, the request for platelets was declined. At Safdarjung, those running the blood bank said they did not separate blood after 4 p.m.; at RML, the response was, "Try your luck at the Red Cross."

On Friday, when the Delhi High Court asked the Centre and the state how many hospitals were equipped with platelet-separating machines, neither could provide an immediate answer.

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