Delhi gets country’s 1st plasma bank at ILBS to aid Covid fight
CM Arvind Kejriwal laid out the criteria for donors and said the plan will be a success only if people who have recovered from Covid-19 turn up in big numbers to donate plasma since the rules possibly leave only a small proportion eligible.Updated: Jul 03, 2020 15:56 IST
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal opened on Thursday the country’s first plasma bank at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj. The bank has been set up to pool in plasma from people who recovered from Covid-19 so that moderately ill patients can have better access to therapy using it.
The CM laid out the criteria for donors and said the plan will be a success only if people who have recovered from Covid-19 turn up in big numbers to donate plasma since the rules possibly leave only a small proportion eligible.
“We have not got a vaccine for Corona yet. Till the time we do not get a vaccine, plasma therapy will prove to be helpful for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. People were finding it difficult to get plasma and the situation got quite chaotic in Delhi. We hope the situation will improve with the opening of this plasma bank,” he said.
Blood and plasma donations require specific matching of blood groups, which often makes the sourcing of plasma difficult at short notice. Plasma therapy, a technique that essentially involves delivering virus-fighting antibodies to a person fighting the infection to bolster their immune response, has been on at select hospitals in the capital since April 22.
The chief minister said the rules for donors is strict. “So, even as 59,992 people have recovered in Delhi from Covid-19 so far, the number of people who will actually be eligible to donate their plasma will be far lower. I request those who fit the required parameters to come and donate their plasma. Those who donate blood often face weakness, but no such signs are seen in those who donate plasma. So, people should not fear anything as there are no complications involved in this,” Kejriwal said.
The conditions include the following: The donor should be a person who tested positive for Covid-19 through a swab test; the person should not have had any Covid-19 symptoms for 14 days; and a donor will need to be between the age of 18 and 60.
“You cannot donate plasma if - your weight is less than 50 kg. Women who have ever been pregnant; you are diabetic on insulin; your blood pressure is more than 140 and diastolic less than 60 or more than 90. You cannot donate plasma if you have uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension with a change in medication in last 28 days, if you are a cancer survivor, or if you have chronic kidney/heart/lung or liver disease,” Kejriwal said.
The chief minister launched the helpline 1031 where people can call to get registered for plasma donation. Registration can also be done by sending a message on the WhatsApp number 8800007722 or through the government’s delhifightscorona.in website.
As per the CM, Covid patients in need of plasma should not register through these channels. For those seeking the therapy, no personal calls by the patients or his family to ILBS or the helpline number will be accepted, he said. According to protocol, the hospital that prescribed plasma therapy for a patient will have to contact ILBS hospital for plasma on behalf of the patient.
For recovered Covid-19 patients wanting to donate their plasma, the registration form has been kept simple where the age, gender, address and blood group of the person is asked for. Prospective donors are also asked to state when they tested positive.
People who register to be donors will be reached out to by doctors authorised by the Delhi government who will assess the person for whether they meet the conditions. Once cleared, they will need to come into ILBS for which the government will arrange transportation or reimburse costs if needed.
A confirmatory negative test, in case the donor never had a second test, will be carried out and the process at ILBS is expected to last 45 minutes to an hour.
When asked by reporters about opening more such banks, Kejriwal, during his visit to ILBS in the afternoon, said it would depend on the success of the first.
Dr Puneet Mishra, professor of community medicine at AIIMS said having a plasma bank would streamline the entire process of getting plasma for hospitals and families of patients. “Opening one centralised plasma bank is a good idea, but before opening more plasma banks, the government should wait till the ICMR comes out with its final result of their plasma trials,” he said