67,000 recovered in Maha, only 180 donated plasmaUpdated: Jun 24, 2020 00:27 IST
Only 180 of the 67,000 patients who recovered from Covid-19 in the state have come forward to donate blood for the convalescent plasma therapy (CPT), according to the authorities. Doctors say they are struggling to arrange for donors for CPT trials as 90% patients, who promise to return for blood donation, refuse after being contacted.
Individuals infected with Sars-CoV-2 develop antibodies as part of the body’s immune response to the foreign pathogen. The antibodies invade pathogens and work to eliminate the virus in patients. During CPT, these antibodies are infused into the blood of Covid-19 patients to help them fight the virus.
On Monday, the number of recovered patients in the state was 67,706, the highest in India. Doctors attributed the low number of donors to fear of contracting the infection again and lack of awareness about the therapy. Many patients provide wrong contact numbers during the time of discharge.
“When patients are contacted 21 days after discharge, at least 90% refuse to donate blood. People are selfish because they forget about other patients after their recovery. They are busy criticising doctors, but they don’t play their part,” said Dr Mohan Joshi, in-charge of Nair Hospital. At Nair hospital, 50 patients have donated blood.
Recently, the Medical Education and Drugs Department (MEDD) got approval to start clinical trials across Maharashtra to assess the efficacy of plasma therapy in treatment of Covid-19 patients. Twenty-one government medical colleges will take part in the trial. It will include city’s premier medical colleges— KEM, Sion, Nair and Cooper hospitals.
“In the randomised open trial, 500 patients would be given plasma from recovered patients. It will be the world’s largest clinical trial on plasma therapy,” said Dr Sanjay Mukherjee, secretary of MEDD.
It is not scientifically proven that plasma therapy can cure Covid-19, but is being used as an experimental procedure for treatment.
Many countries like the US, China and Spain, Turkey, South Korea, Italy, the United Kingdom are using CPT as a stopgap measure.
The broader criteria for donors is they should have complete resolution of symptoms for at least 21 days or three weeks prior to donation and should not be suffering from any transmissible or chronic disease.
Those aged 18 to 60, with weight above 50kg, haemoglobin level at 12.5 g/dL and above and blood pressure and body temperature in the normal range are deemed fit for donation.
Patients from the city who have not been approached but are keen to donate plasma can contact the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s helpline number 1916.
Dr Muralidhar Tamble, medical superintendent of BJ Medical College, Pune, which was the first medical college to get approval, said they are trying to reach recovered patients through social media.
“Not all interested donors qualify for donations. They have to go through tests, and many often fail. As it is for a good cause, I request patients to donate their blood and help us in the trial,” said Tamble.