A sudden spike in the daily number of Covid cases in India, over the last one month, has led to an increased demand for plasma. We speak to a 44-year-old recovered COVID-19 patient about his safe and pain-free experience.
The Better India has launched a ‘Plasma Donor Registration‘ drive to encourage those eligible to sign up for donations and provide a single-point resource for those looking for Plasma donations.
Blood Plasma Therapy can help prevent COVID-19 patients from going onto ventilators and is helpful in specific timeframes for those infected by the Coronavirus.
We will verify the details of those signing up for the donations and highlight their availability and region, so those in urgent need can get the help they need as soon as possible. If you, or someone you know, has recovered from a COVID-19 attack in the parameters mentioned below, kindly do consider signing up.
This is a first person account by Amol Sainwar, a 44-year-old resident of Thane, who donated plasma twice — in January and April this year, eight months after he recovered from COVID-19.
I donated blood in a regular blood donation drive in Thane on 15 August 2020. A day later, I developed COVID-19 symptoms, which included fever, headache and body pain. I took some pills and went to sleep but the pain did not subside. On the 10th day, I tested positive for the virus and was admitted to a hospital. My entire family — wife, two children and mother, tested positive, too. My 73-year-old mother was admitted to the hospital along with me.
I was in the hospital for eight days, post which I was in home quarantine for nearly a month. The road to recovery for my family was hard, given that we were not allowed to be in close quarters of each other for a month. Our faith and spirits would have been broken had it not been for individuals and doctors who supported us throughout.
Seeing our neighbours cook meals for our family, doctors cheering us up and friends and relatives constantly motivating us, I wanted to give back to society. But after I recovered completely, plasma therapy was not yet widely implemented.
In January 2021, I learnt about a man named Saurabh Mishra who urgently needed plasma for his mother.
The Plasma Donation Process
Saurabh’s mother was admitted to a hospital on 19 January, the same day his grandfather passed away from COVID-19. The Remdesivir injections did not help and doctors suggested plasma donation as a last resort for her. Fortunately, both our blood groups are O positive.
Seeing the precarious situation, I immediately went for a coronavirus test to get my RT-PCR report. I then went to the Bloodline blood bank to donate plasma along with Saurabh.
The doctors patiently explained the entire process of plasma donation and assured me that my body will start manufacturing plasma proteins within 72 hours. If I changed my mind or felt weak during the process, I was given the option of stopping it.
I signed a donor registration and consent form, they took my blood sample and matched it with Saurabh’s mother’s blood. They also checked my antibodies through a screening test and found the index to be at 163. The minimum requirement is 10. The sampling and test took about an hour.
Then, I was put on the plasma Apheresis machine for 40 minutes and they extracted 440 ml of blood from my body, segregated the plasma from the blood and injected the blood back into my body. The plasma was stored in a deep freezer. At no point, did I feel weak or experience any issues.
Later, I was given tea and biscuits and put under observation for 30 minutes.
The blood bank gave the plasma to Saurabh in an ice bag. He took it to the hospital where the plasma infusion was done. His mother was able to recover within the next few days and today she is COVID-19 free.
That was my first donation, and on 7 April, I donated again. Unfortunately, the patient I donated plasma to passed away. When I did it for the second time, my antibodies were low but I was still eligible.
The gap between plasma demand and supply is very high mostly due to fear and misconceptions. The biggest fear recovered patients have is being infected with the SARS-COV2 virus. I was with Saurabh for nearly two to three hours during the plasma donation. And three days later, he tested positive for the virus but I did not contract the illness.
And if you think donating plasma is going to rob you of antibodies, that is also untrue. Antibodies are going to decrease in your body over time, irrespective of whether you donate or not.
I have donated twice and I will donate again, if I am eligible. I sincerely request every recovered person [if they’re eligible] to donate plasma. There may not be a guarantee it will save a life but if you don’t donate, there will certainly be a loss. Our doctors are working round the clock to save lives. This is the least we can do.
Featured image is representative
Edited by Yoshita Rao