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CMCH has denied the toddler was transfused with infected blood, but the parents’ lawyer said they have records to prove the hospital is lying.

2-yr-old tests HIV Parents accuse Kovai govt hospital of transfusing infected bloodImage for representation
news Medical Negligence Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 12:08

The incident where a pregnant woman was transfused with HIV-infected blood in Tamil Nadu is still fresh in the minds of the people. Months later, parents of a 2-year-old have accused a government hospital in Coimbatore of doing the same to their child. On February 6, 2019, Vijay* and Bakyam* should have been celebrating the birthdays of their twins; instead they were forced to confront the fact that their daughter was HIV-positive.

The couple, originally from Trichy, gave birth to twins – a boy and a girl – on February 6, 2017 in Trichy government hospital. Since the girl child was underweight, she was given continuous treatment. The couple live in Coimbatore and work as daily wage labourers. In such a condition, on July 11, 2018, the girl was admitted to the government hospital in Tirupur, where the doctors diagnosed her with heart anomalies and referred her to the government hospital in Coimbatore.

On July 12, 2018, the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) allegedly transfused blood to the baby, who was later discharged on July 13. “The day when the blood was transfused to my baby, within minutes of starting the transfusion, another doctor came and stopped it. When we asked why he interrupted the transfusion, he said that the blood belonged to a very old person and hence he was stopping the transfusion,” Vijay told TNM.

On February 6 this year, the couple brought their child back to CMCH after they spotted tiny swellings on her body. Upon examination, the doctors in CMCH informed Vijay and Bakyam that their baby was HIV positive. On seeing the couple shocked by this revelation, the doctors of CMCH tested the couple and the other twin, and found that all three were HIV negative. Vijay then alleged that the blood transfused last year in CMCH led to their baby getting HIV and approached the police to file a complaint against the hospital. However, the police allegedly refused to entertain the complaint.

Speaking to TNM, Vijay said that the child has been facing health issues ever since she was discharged from CMCH last year. “It was always small swellings. She would scratch the area where zits appeared and we brought her here again, when we were told that it was chicken pox. So we ground neem paste and put in on the zits, like people do usually. But even after applying that for a long time, the swellings did not disappear, so we brought her here again,” he explained.

However, Dean of CMCH Dr Asokan denied any role that CMCH might have played in the child getting infected.

“The baby was admitted last July and she was treated with packed cells. 50 ml was transfused and we have seen all the records. The packed cell which was transfused was negative for HIV, Malaria, Syphilis and Hepatitis C and B. So it is not true stating that transfusion caused HIV. we are sure that packed cells, which are Red Blood Corpuscles, will not transmit HIV virus,” he said.

The Dean also claimed that the baby was underweight and had spent six weeks in the Sick Neonatal Care Unit (SNCU) in Trichy and had also undergone multiple procedures in various other hospitals where it might have contracted the infection. He also said that the parents took the baby girl out from SNCU against medical advice and that their claims of not treating the baby elsewhere may not be true.

However, VP Sarathi, the Chairman of the Coimbatore Human Rights Forum and an advocate who is representing Vijay, said, “The records that we have show clearly that it was not packed cells that was transfused to the baby but blood. The Dean’s claims that CMCH transfused packed cells is not true.” He also alleged that the hospital is now trying to alter the records to suit their narrative, which is also a punishable offence. “Since the police station did not accept Vijay’s complaint, we have given written complaints to the Commissioner of Police and also the District Collector, who has promised prompt action on the matter,” he said.

The parents have also accused the hospital of being callous since the diagnosis.

“They are poor daily wage labourers and hence they have been placing their trust on public health institutions. CMCH has not even started treatment for the HIV infection as on date. Them denying their mistake is one thing, but what stops them from attending to the child who has the infection?” Sarathi asked.

*Names changed to protect identity

(With inputs from Sudhakar Balasundaram)

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