As plasma turns crucial for COVID-19 treatment, Telangana groups help connect donors

A group of Samaritans are joining hands to help bridge the gap between plasma donors and donees in Telangana.
As plasma turns crucial for COVID-19 treatment, Telangana groups help connect donors
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Punju Kishore Kumar, a 40-year-old businessman in Hyderabad, was discharged from Gandhi Hospital on June 8 after earlier testing positive for the coronavirus. However, not long after his recovery, he was approached by a family friend who was desperately looking for plasma donors for a sum of Rs 10 lakh. 

“They offered me Rs 10 lakh for my A+ plasma. I was surprised that people were ready to pay such a high price for plasma. I politely declined because I didn’t want to sell my plasma. I felt people like them who can afford to pay such a high amount can easily find donors,” he told TNM. 

Kishore, however, is now on his way to Secunderabad to donate his plasma to a person who was in need. There are many like Kishore in the city who are genuinely hoping to help someone, and the Telangana Plasma Donors Association is hoping to play a vital role in making those connections. 

Telangana Plasma Donors Association

It’s been five days since Gudur Narayana Reddy, Senior Congress leader, formally announced the formation of Telangana Plasma Donors Association. Speaking to TNM, the 58-year-old Congress Party member said, “After I recovered from COVID-19, I realised I was truly blessed. I wanted to do something about the lesser fortunate ones who were desperately in search of plasma. To inculcate the trend of plasma donation, we decided to form the Telangana Plasma Donors Association. We began with 80 members out of whom 30 were eligible to donate. So far, in the last five days we have managed to connect 42 donors with donees.”

Explaining how they work, Reddy said, “People contact me via social media, message or call me and let me know their requirements. Those who wish to donate also get in touch with us. All we do is we connect both the donor and the donee on a conference call and put  them in touch. For some blood groups like AB negative and AB positive, there is a huge gap between the demand and the supply.”

“I am very happy with the progress. People have proved that humanity exists. The reaction is heartening,” added Reddy.

Other groups assisting plasma donors

Apart from the Telangana  Plasma Donors Association, there are several individuals who have come together to help the cause of plasma donation. Gift a Life campaign is another initiative that is helping connect plasma donors and donees.

TNM spoke to Pratibha Jhawar, a company secretary and a member of this team. She said, “We found several social media posts in search of plasma donors. Very few people were coming forward to donate. That is when we decided to bridge the gap with our efforts. All the posts we come across we verify and take down details. We use our own social media handles to connect to people posting requirements. In the last three weeks, a lot of people are now aware that we are taking efforts to connect donors and donees. Now, we receive around 10 donor requests on a daily basis.”

Throwing light on how the team works, Pratibha explained, “We have a Whatsapp group connecting all those interested to help the cause. We put out requirements that we come across in the group. All the members check in their personal circles for donors and revert with an option.”

And regarding the biggest challenge they are facing, Pratibha shares,“In between all the efforts that we take, there are several people trying to take advantage of the situation. They call the donees and try to make money out of their misfortune. This wastes a lot of time and energy.” 

One such example is that of Sandeep Reddy, a 25-year-old man who duped over 200 people in the guise of donating plasma. He was arrested on Monday by the East Zone Team of the Hyderabad Commissioner’s Task Force. 

Sandeep would browse social networking sites and keep an eye out for plasma requirements. He would then shortlist a few and call them up under the guise of being a patient who recovered from COVID-19 and claimed to be an eligible plasma donor. He would then ask the worried family for money to be sent through a digital payment mode for transportation, to reach their location.

Similarly he would also dupe those enquiring about Tocizumab 400 mg, an antiviral drug for COVID-19. 

The Cyberabad Police is also doing a lot to encourage plasma donation. Mohammad Javeed, a member of the Society for Cyberabad Security Council (SCSC), a team of IT employees working in close coordination with the Cyberabad Police said, “We have set up plasma call centres police station-wise in Cyberabad limits. There are a total of 37 police stations coordinating the efforts. Around 27 people have come forward to donate plasma so far in Cyberabad limits. We had received a total of 46 requests from callers in Cyberabad limits out of which 12 requests are pending.”

Earlier this week, the Cyberabad Police Commissioner, VC Sajjanar had appealed to people who have recovered from COVID-19 to come forward and donate plasma. Sajjanar has recorded a video appeal hoping to motivate people to come forward to donate.

Three police personnel from the Cyberabad Police have already come forward and donated plasma. The Cyberabad Police is also offering free pick up and drop to anyone who is willing to donate.

AIMIM Chief Asaddudin Owaisi was one of the first leaders to highlight the importance of plasma donation. In a letter to the Telangana Health Minister, Owaisi said, "As you are aware, the donation of convalescent plasma is critical in our collective fight against coronavirus. In furtherance of the same I am attaching herewith the names of 32 recovered patients who are willing to donate their plasma and contribute in helping patients who are currently affected by COVID-19," he said in the letter dated April 27.

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