COVID-19: West Bengal to start plasma therapy

COVID-19: Bengal to start plasma therapy; blood component collected from first donor

West Bengal has taken a major step towards starting plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 patients after a state-run hospital collected and preserved the blood component from a woman who recovered from the disease in March, a senior official of the health department said on Thursday.

The therapy involves taking antibodies from the plasma of a person who has recovered from COVID-19 and transfusing those antibodies into an active coronavirus patient to help the immune system fight the infection.

The collection and preservation of plasma have been done at the Department of Immunohaematology and Blood Transfusion of the Kolkata Medical College and Hospital on Wednesday after Monami Biswas donated blood for the purpose, the official said.

The 23-year-old woman from Habra in North 24 Parganas district recovered from the disease in March.

Blood plasma has been collected from Biswas using Plasmapheresis method by a team of seven doctors headed by Prof Dr Prasun Bhattacharya.

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"The collection and preservation of plasma have been done for the first time in the eastern part of the country, the official told PTI.

The woman, who was pursuing higher studies in Scotland, tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from abroad. She agreed to donate her blood plasma for treating such patients.

Biswas was given chocolate, fruit juice and milkshake before the transfusion on Wednesday. Her body weight, blood pressure and body temperature were then noted and the process of plasma collection started, the official said.

The entire process lasted for around 50 minutes and around 410 millilitre of plasma was collected from her.

A cell separator machine was used to collect plasma from Biswas, he added.

"After that, red blood cells, platelets and other components of blood were reinfused in her body. This is a highly complicated method but the process is quite similar to blood donation," the official said.

Biswas said she is happy to donate plasma for treating COVID-19 patients.

"It always feels great when you know that you have contributed to humanity. I was always willing to help people," she said.

On Monday, a 28-year-old doctor of Tata Medical Centre who recently recovered from COVID-19 will also donate plasma, health department sources said.

At least 10 to 12 pouches of plasma will be enough to start plasma therapy of COVID-19 patients, the official added. 

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