'Lack of donors' impacts plasma therapy program in Mumbai

'Lack of donors' impacts plasma therapy program in Mumbai

Though the Central Government has allowed the use of convalescent plasma therapy on moderately ill COVID-19 patients as of June 13 but the same has not been able to pick up due to the lack of donors.

As per the news report in Indian Express, so far 70 people have come forward to donate plasma to the Mumbai civic authority. Despite this, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that each district in Maharasthra will have a plasma centre.

The major reason for such a low turnout is that people are apprehensive of returning to the hospital's post making a recovery. However, there are also reports that claim that the donors are increasing but given the rising number of cases in the city, more donors will be required in the near future.

This is not the first hurdle that ambitious plasma treatment is encountering. Earlier the hospitals claimed that they were not very clear regarding the procedure. It appeared that there was some confusion among hospitals and doctors with regard to administering this form of treatment.

The reason for this concern was that the blood banks across Mumbai do not have the required license to extract and store plasma. These permissions can only be acquired through the state’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Later air was cleared in this regards with FDA issuing a clarification stating that they have posted a circular on Monday permitting the use of plasma therapy selectively on moderately ill COVID-19 patients. Additionally, hospitals conducting this treatment are required to maintain all relevant records so that it can be sent over to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) or the DCGI if and when required.

With regard to granting licenses to blood banks, FDA said that the governing body has already provided licenses and required permissions to 10 blood banks in Mumbai and was in process of giving it to two more hospitals.

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Following this, CM Uddhav Thackeray too had appealed to people to come forward and donate their blood for the plasma treatment. Not only this, the Maharashtra State Government recently introduced ‘Project Platina’ which is aimed at expediting plasma therapy on patients to have a detailed data set for future reference.

The process of extracting plasma and conducting the treatment, known as apheresis, involves separating the plasma from a blood sample and re-transfusing it to the patient.

A blood transfusion expert has said that institutions like Nair Hospital are only allowing plasma donations on a trial basis, which effectively means that those willing to donate plasma can’t do so at the moment.

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