Five days on, teething troubles at plasma bank
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday had urged all recovered Covid-19 patients to donate plasma, particularly since the criteria for who can donate leaves many people out.Updated: Jul 08, 2020 03:27 IST
Confusion over procedures and paperwork was among teething troubles facing donors as well as prospective recipients at the country’s first plasma bank for Covid-19 patients, which was set up by the Delhi government five days ago to streamline access to one of the few effective treatments against the coronavirus disease.
Convalescent plasma therapy uses a blood component called plasma, which contains virus-fighting antibodies, from a person who has recovered from the infection. When given to a patient with Covid-19, it has been established to help their immune system fight off the virus. Other states such as West Bengal and Goa have also decided to set up plasma banks.
“There were several forms that had to be filled, and even if one column or stamp was missing, the applicants were asked to go back to the hospital. Apart from that, transporting the plasma is also the responsibility of the patient’s family. So, I had to go looking for an ice box,” said Sujeet Kumar, 35, who went to the plasma bank on Monday with a friend whose father needed the therapy.
Similar problems were faced by donors, who reported waiting for long waiting hours.
Ravi Sharma, 33, was one of the recovered Covid-19 patients who registered as a convalescent plasma donor. Sharma, a Delhi government educator, left the Delhi Plasma Bank without donating after waiting for over six hours at the hospital.
“After I registered on the website, I got a call from a doctor who told me about the therapy. Then, we fixed an appointment for Monday afternoon,” he said.
The confusion started when he reached the hospital. “I was not told that I had to carry any document. But once I reached the hospital, they asked me to fill a form and provide my test reports – both positive and negative. I had the negative report on my phone but not the other one. It took two hours of back and forth for my sample to be taken,” he said.
He left around 7pm after waiting in vain for his fresh test report. “I was the only voluntary donor at that time,” he said.
“The process will definitely get streamlined in the next few days. It is a new process and we will take their feedback to make it as easy as possible. It is monitored directly by the CM and a dedicated team is personally reaching out to potential plasma donors to make the process smooth and convenient at the earliest,” said a Delhi govt spokesperson.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday had urged all recovered Covid-19 patients to donate plasma, particularly since the criteria for who can donate leaves many people out.
The number of patients receiving plasma therapy has gone up with the Union ministry of health allowing hospitals to administer the therapy outside of a clinical trial in patients with moderate disease whose requirement for oxygen kept increasing despite being given oxygen therapy and steroids.
So far, over 74,000 people have recovered in the city and many of them can donate plasma, health officials said. “So far, we have administered the therapy to 12 patients. However, its efficacy in treating Covid-19 is not yet proven,” said Dr Gauri Shankar, head of the department of critical care at Fortis hospital, Vasant Kunj.
Max hospital, Saket, which was the first hospital in the city to administer the therapy, has been receiving increased requests and queries about the therapy.
“We counsel all Covid-19 patients at the time of discharge to return in two weeks to donate plasma. However, we are not getting enough donations at the moment for us to create a plasma ban,” said Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director, Max Healthcare.
“The delays could possibly be because people might come to the hospital without checking what papers are needed on the website. The process of plasmapheresis is meticulous. We are able to manage nearly 20 donors and recipients everyday and hope to get better with time,” said Dr SK Sarin, director of Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences that runs the plasma bank. Around 200 patients in each of the two hospitals will receive the therapy under the trial.
In two separate orders on Tuesday, the Delhi government directed all Covid hospitals in the city to obtain feedback of patients on prescribed proforma and ask them if they want to donate plasma. The government has also decided to put up boards at entry gates of all hospitals requesting recovered patients to donate.