Plasma therapy is currently used for people with moderate to severe COVID-19 infection.

Recovered COVID patient in Bangalore shows a thumbs up sign while lying down and donating plasma In his hand is a yellow smiley face ball and the person is hooked to a plasma extraction machine
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 09:27

The Karnataka government inaugurated its first plasma bank in Bengaluru on Tuesday evening, run by the HCG Cancer Centre.

At the inauguration, Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan said, “All hospitals can benefit from this plasma bank and all people can benefit from this plasma therapy bank. Donors are most important for plasma therapy, and we encourage them to come forward. The government is also giving an encouragement of Rs 5,000 to all those who donate their plasma.”

However, one need not only go to the hospital to donate their plasma, but can go to several hospitals in the city, including Manipal Hospital, or Victoria Hospital.

Dr Sreelatha, Professor and Head of Department of Transfusion Medicine (Blood Bank) at the Victoria Hospital, the nodal hospital for plasma donation in the city, said that donating plasma is, in fact, beneficial to the donor. 

“It is good for their health, as some amount of toxins will be released from the body, and tests worth Rs 20,000 will be conducted on the person free of charge. Each donor will be helping two patients,” Dr Sreelatha explained.

Plasma therapy is currently used for people with moderate to severe COVID-19. It is an experimental therapy, and officials have noted that it has been effective.

Trilok Chandra, the senior IAS officer heading the COVID-19 Critical Care Support Committee told TNM, “Plasma therapy has been tried on six patients so far. It has been effective on three patients and they have recovered. The others —  it didn’t work as they were already in distress, out of which two were on ventilators.”

With a few exceptions, those who have recovered from the disease can donate their plasma, said Dr Sreelatha.

People aged between 18-60 years of age, who weigh a minimum of 55 kilograms and have a negative COVID-19 test at the time of discharge can donate plasma. There should be a gap of 28 days after recovery.

However, women who have given birth, or have ever been pregnant, are not eligible to donate. Dr Sreelatha said that nulliparous women — women who have never given birth--- don’t have certain antibodies which may be present in women who have given birth. Dr Sreelatha added that even women who have not had children but had miscarriages may not be eligible to donate.

Dr Sreelatha urged people to donate at government hospitals. “Since the Bangalore plasma blood bank is a government plasma bank, the plasma is given free-of-cost to the COVID-19 patient when there is a requirement. If plasma is given to private hospitals, the patient will be charged,” she said.

Mohammad Saqlain Thaha, a 24-year-old resident of Kengeri who donated his plasma on Tuesday, said that he was treated very well by the staff and was appreciated for donating his plasma.

Since he lives far away from HCG Hospital in Sampangiramnagar, Saqlain said, “They picked me up and dropped me. The doctors were around me during the entire process. At the end, I even got some snacks.”

“I was discharged from hospital on June 23 so when I heard about it, I got in touch with the hospital. It is my duty to donate plasma if someone’s life is going to get saved. In another fourteen days, I can donate plasma again. They will do a small test and if I’m still eligible, I’ll donate again,” he said.

However, Saqlain noted that there was no information about when he would get the ‘encouragement money’, as the doctors did not say anything about it.

The helpline number for donating plasma in Bengaluru is 080-47190606.

(With inputs from Soumya Chatterjee)

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