Delhi government-run Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH), a dedicated COVID-19 facility, has received nod from the ICMR to conduct plasma therapy on 200 coronavirus patients, senior officials said on Tuesday.
RGSSH in east Delhi has treated over a thousand patients after being declared a dedicated facility, and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday felicitated the 1000th patient who was discharged on July 3.
"We received the ICMR nod about 10 days ago, and currently we have the permit to do plasma therapy on 200 recipients. We are making all arrangements before we can begin, but we are short of manpower as of now," a senior doctor at RGSSH told PTI.
He said advertisements have been put out by the hospital authorities to hire trained technicians.
"A convalescent plasma therapy facility needs a lot of paraphernalia and trained staff. We are trying to augment our infrastructure as well as in the process of hiring required staff, after which we will begin the process" a senior official said.
Recently, Kejriwal had inaugurated the country's first 'plasma bank' at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), run by the city government.
On the first day, 10 people donated and on the second day, seven donors showed up at ILBS, according to sources. The chief minister has been appealing to people, who have fully recovered, to come forward and donate plasma to COVID-19 patients.
Recently, the city government-run LNJP Hospital had resumed plasma therapy at the facility after getting a fresh nod from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which gave it the permit to conduct the therapy on 200 patients.
Medical Director of LNJP Hospital, Dr Suresh Kumar on June 23 had said the limit of 200 recipients was likely to be exhausted over a period of a month-and-a-half.
Plasma therapy on a trial basis was permitted by the ICMR earlier but then it had put it on hold. After the fresh nod from ICMR in June, LNJP Hospital and Max Hospital, Saket have done plasma therapy on novel coronavirus patients.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, 55, after contracting COVID-19 was on June 20 administered plasma therapy at the Max Hospital, after which his condition improved and he was discharged on June 26.
He too had appealed to people to donate plasma after fully recovering from COVID-19, and if permitted by doctors.
For donors, there are some strict criteria and counselling and screening is done before actual the donation process begins. So, about two to two-and-a-half hours is the total time per donor.
"Also, we do TTI (Transfusion Transmissible Infections) tests. So, the donor should not have HIV, hepatitis B or C, syphilis among other ailments. The donor also should not have any comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension or renal problems," a senior doctor at the ILBS said.
Each donor, a person who has recently recovered from COVID-19, develops antibodies, which is transferred to the recipient through plasma.
"Each person can donate 250-500 ml of plasma. We give first dosage of 250 ml to the recipient, and if needed second dosage of 250 ml after 24 hours," Kumar at LNJP hospital said.
However, strict guidelines have been issued by the Delhi government as to who are eligible to donate plasma and who aren't, at present.
So, people aged 18-60, who have fully recovered from COVID-19 and showed no symptoms for 14 days can go for donation, subject to strict guidelines for eligible donors.
Someone weighing less than 50 kg, women who have a history of pregnancy, cancer survivors, and those with kidney, heart, lung or liver diseases are not eligible to donate plasma.