Touts 'don't stand a chance' in state's 1st plasma bank

Touts 'don't stand a chance' in state's first plasma bank

Karnataka’s first plasma bank at HCG Hospital has put in place safeguards to avoid a Delhi-like situation where touts exploited patients needing plasma therapy.

The bank has created an online registry to place requests for plasma transfusion that will prioritise critical and serious patients so that no black market is created.

Dr Vishal Rao, who is handling the operations of the plasma bank, said the state government was connecting them to potential plasma donors. The BBMP contacts cured patients, urging interested plasma donors to come forward. “Every single communication has to be vetted by the government because we know what happened in Delhi. There was black marketing and data leak. It was a mess,” he told DH.

An SOP has also been put in place to ensure data confidentiality. “We maintain a secure server that has very limited access. All the three volunteers contacting the patient sign a non-disclosure agreement,” Dr Rao said. There is also a Karnataka Plasma Council, comprising clinicians, who would replicate this across all institutes, he added.

Dr Rao claimed there is no chance for middlemen to get into the system, which is “fully locked and closed”. Out of the 40 blood banks in the state that have plasmapheresis machines, only four have the licence to do plasmapheresis (the process of separating the plasma from the blood cells). “From storing to freezing plasma, everything has a protocol,” he explained.

Plasma therapy, considered a stopgap treatment for Covid-19, has become crucial in Karnataka, which currently has 611 patients in the ICU, 339 of them in Bengaluru alone. The city now has 10,758 total recoveries and the state 33,750.

“Plasma therapy is an orphan. Unlike Remdesivir, no drug maker is backing it. We are setting up a war room on a real-time basis to give it to patients who need it. We have got requests from Shifa Hospital, Excelcare Hospitals, Sakra Hospital and Fortis Hospital,” Dr Rao said.

The first prerequisite for plasma therapy is a match of the blood group between the patient and the donor. Out of the 130 plasma donors registered currently, only 15 have donated it. Eight patients received plasma and five have recovered, he added.

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