Three-time plasma donor spreads hope among Covid-19 patients
Plasma therapy is a process in which blood rich in antibodies from a Covid-19 recovered patient is transfused into the body of someone still struggling with the virus.Updated: Jul 06, 2020 05:50 IST
Yogesh Dhakad, a 28-year-old nursing officer at Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital’s paediatric surgery department, was infected by the coronavirus in April and he spent 21 days in isolation at Safdarjung Hospital.
Having recovered now, Dhakad has donated his plasma three times already – in 45 days of his discharge from the hospital. And he is not done.
“As long as my body continues producing sufficient antibodies, I’ll continue donating every 15 days,” says Dhakad, who has been serving at the hospital since December.
Plasma therapy is a process in which blood rich in antibodies from a Covid-19 recovered patient is transfused into the body of someone still struggling with the virus.
Dhakad, who shares a rented flat in east Delhi’s Pandav Nagar with a friend, had been deployed in the Covid section of RML Hospital when he tested positive for the disease on April 18. “I must have been a little careless while dealing with patients,” says Dhakad. During 21 days of isolation at Safdarjung Hospital, he was asymptomatic throughout and kept himself busy with a physical workout, meditation and diet.
It was on May 30 — nearly three weeks after his recovery — that he received the first request for donating plasma. “A social worker called me to ask if I could donate plasma for two patients admitted at Max Hospital,” says Dhakad.
Dhakad, who weighs a little over 70 kilos, had no qualms. “I have donated blood about a dozen times since 2014. I am educated and aware that it is safe for a healthy person to donate plasma,” says Dhakad.
In plasma donation, as against blood donation, plasma is extracted from the body while other components of the blood are injected back into the body, says Dr Sangeeta Pathak, senior consultant and head of department for the blood bank at Max Healthcare.
“It is a totally safe process as a single needle and kit are used in the entire process. About 96% of the donors don’t feel any adverse effect. Some may feel dizziness and nausea, but it is a temporary effect and can be dealt with by taking sufficient liquid before and after the donation,” says Dr Pathak.
But not every recovered Covid patient is eligible to donate.
In an interview with HT, ILBS director Dr SK Sarin, had said that plasma donors should be a Covid patient younger than 60 years of age, not having uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney, heart, lung, or liver diseases and are well-nourished and weigh above 50kg.
“Women who have been pregnant cannot donate,” says Dr Sarin, adding that people can donate again after a gap of 15 days.
It was only several days later — after a thank you note from one of the beneficiary patients — that Dhakad got to know that both the patients at Max Hospital had recovered. “They were both over 50 years of age. One of them picked my address from the form I had filled and sent me a box of sweets and a thank you note,” says Dhakad.
A curious Dhakad himself dialled a hospital attendant to learn that the second patient too had been discharged.
Over the next 30 days, Dhakad donated plasma to yet another unknown patient during his visit to his hometown in Gwalior after a request from a known person, and then at Jaipur Golden Hospital in Rohini on receiving a call from RML Hospital.
“I don’t know who the other two patients were or whether they got better, but it gives me immense satisfaction and a sense of pride to even think that I contributed to some families feeling hopeful,” says Dhakad.
But Dhakad won’t reveal about his contribution to his parents; his two sisters being the only two relatives who know of it. “My father is a farmer and my mother a homemaker. They won’t understand that donating plasma is a safe, quick and painless process. When this crisis ends, I’ll let them know,” Dhakad says.
Smriti Tiwari, the PRO of RML Hospital, says that Dhakad has also made the hospital proud. “We are proud that a colleague has come forward to set an example.”