BENGALURU: Back in April, plasma therapy trials were initiated after two Covid-recovered patients voluntareed to donate plasma. But since then, there have not been many donors due to fear and misconception. A 49-year-old man, who recovered from Covid-19 in August but is dogged by misinformation, said, “By donating plasma, I fear I would be infected and get weak. I might also lose my immunity. So, I have refrained from donating plasma. The process can also be painful and going to hospitals again is risky.”
Fathaheen Misbah, an engineer and coordinator of Mercy Plasma from Mercy Mission, said there have been only 100 donors since July. Dr Vishal Rao of HCG Cancer Centre, which started plasma therapy in the state, said the hospital’s plasma bank has received only 400 donors from April to October.
“We have over 5 lakh recovered patients in the state, and there is less than 1 per cent coming forward to donate. There are several severely ill Covid-19 patients who need plasma. Ideally, we need 10 donors coming forward each day, but we are getting only four. So far, 20 per cent have been repeat donors. Donation takes only one hour and is not painful.”
Dr Rao said, “Recovered patients say they have just overcome Covid, are stressed and can’t donate. Some say immunity comes down, while others talk about transport expenses. Though the government had announced Rs 5,000 as incentive to donors, it hasn’t happened yet.”Fathaheen said that more awareness campaigns are needed and influential people should spread the positive message.
Dr Geetha, in charge of the blood bank at Apollo Hospitals, said that now with home isolation in place, health experts are unable to pass on the message and spread awareness among recovered patients. “Generally, we counsel them at the time of discharge, but that is lacking now. There are very few donors and we definitely need more.”