The Madurai bench of Madras High Court issued notices to the Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Department to respond to petitions seeking better treatment and compensation to the pregnant woman who was transfused HIV infected blood in Sattur in Tamil Nadu.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by M Abbas Mandhiri, a lawyer and organiser of Makkal Needhi Maiyam (MNM). In his petition he had sought better treatment and higher compensation for the pregnant woman who contracted HIV after she was transfused infected blood due to negligence in Sattur Government Hospital. The petition also stated that though the State Blood Transfusion Council had announced that it was a punishable offence to ask the relatives of those who undergo medical procedures in the hospital to donate blood as a replacement for the blood used on their relatives, the practice was still rampant. He was referring to the HIV infected 19-year-old who had donated his blood after his relative had undergone treatment in a hospital in Virudhunagar district.
The petitioner also stated that the blood transfusion reported in Virudhunagar district had to be blamed on the lethargic attitude and the lapse in supervision in the blood bank and the hospital. Hence he requested the court to treat the case as one of criminal negligence since the disaster could have been averted if the blood bank staff, who knew that the donor was HIV positive, had acted diligently.
Calling for the state government to bring in a ‘Safe Blood policy’, the petitioner also sought higher fund allocation to the government hospitals to procure advanced equipment and also to conduct HIV and AIDS awareness programmes across the state.
A division bench of justices KK Sasidharan and PD Audikesavalu heard the petition and issued notice to the state Health and Family Welfare department to respond by January 22.
The pregnant woman, who was infected with HIV after a government hospital transfused blood to her a few weeks ago is now undergoing treatment in Madurai Government Rajaji Hospital. The man who donated the HIV-positive blood died recently due to poisoning after he tried to kill himself.
Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan visited the hospital immediately after the incident came to light and conducted inquiries with the staff. Speaking to the reporters, he said that the government has arranged for the pregnant woman to be treated in Madurai Government Rajaji hospital. “We have made arrangements for the woman to receive exclusive treatment in Madurai Government Rajaji Hospital. We have assigned three doctors to specially oversee the assessment and treatment of the victim. If the family is not satisfied with the treatment in Madurai, the government is ready to arrange treatment in a private hospital also,” he had said.