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Kerala: 9-year-old leukaemia patient gets HIV after blood transfusion, probe on

A nine-year-old girl suffering from leukaemia has tested positive for HIV after undergoing blood transfusion in Kerala.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2017 09:39 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala,HIV,Blood transfusion
The girl has been under treatment at the RCC for leukaemia since March and it was in August that she tested positive for HIV during routine blood tests.(HT File Photo)

Kerala has ordered an investigation after a nine-year-old leukaemia patient tested positive for HIV infection allegedly after undergoing a blood transfusion at a top government hospital in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

State health minister KK Shailaja constituted a team comprising experts from anti-retroviral therapy, pathology and blood bank. The minister said the state government would meet all expenses of further medical treatment of the girl. The police also questioned some employees and doctors of the premier cancer institute, the Regional Cancer Centre, and seized medical records of the girl.

The girl has been under treatment at the RCC for leukaemia since March and in August she tested positive for HIV during routine blood tests. Her parents alleged that there was a deliberate attempt to conceal information about the infection. They said they found out about the infection accidentally.

“Doctors told us a surgery was needed but they kept on delaying it and started high-dose of antibiotics. Later we found in the medical report that the column regarding the HIV was left blank,” said the father.

He alleged that doctors advised the family to go for an HIV test and both parents turned negative but the girl was positive. Since the blood transfusion was done only at the RCC, the parents are convinced that the girl got infected at the cancer institute.

The parents said they would also approach the human rights commission. State opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala called on the girl on Friday and urged the government to book those responsible for the “criminal medical negligence.” The RCC later clarified that the girl was on chemotherapy since March 3 and sine then 49 units of bold was given to her.

The incident triggered a political storm with leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala calling for strict action. “The girl came for cancer treatment and now is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) positive. I have spoken to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and told him about what has happened,” said Chennithala.

The girl has been under treatment at the RCC for leukaemia since March and in August she tested positive for HIV during routine blood tests.

The RCC is one of the best-known institutes in southern India but has been caught in several controversies in recent years, including one on drug trials, besides allegations of corruption in appointments and running of the centre. A top employee at the RCC earlier this year sent a detailed letter to Vijayan and top officials of the state highlighting the various ills that allegedly plague the institute.

Infected blood and blood products accounted for 0.8% of new HIV infections in 2015-16, shows data from India’s Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres run by the National AIDS Control Organisation. Of the 191,326 new infections, 1,532 were from infected blood and blood products. Uttar Pradesh recorded 255 blood-borne HIV infections, the highest in India, with Kerala recording 16 cases.

(with inputs from IANS and Sanchita Sharma)

First Published: Sep 15, 2017 12:13 IST