Leukaemia patients in Chennai suffer as ICH equipment remains unused for a year

Leukaemia patients on chemotherapy bear the most brunt as they regularly require more platelets and transfusions.
Leukaemia patients bear the most brunt as they regularly require platelets
Leukaemia patients bear the most brunt as they regularly require platelets(Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: Hundreds of children in need of platelets at the Government Institute of Child Health (ICH) and Hospital for Children at Egmore are left stranded allegedly owing to the delay in obtaining a license from the State Drugs Control Department for an apheresis machine (blood components separator), even a year after its purchase. Blood donors said the machine worth several lakhs was purchased in June 2023 and is yet to be utilised.

Leukaemia patients on chemotherapy bear the most brunt as they regularly require more platelets and transfusions. Moreover, the shelf life of platelets is only five days, pointed out Dr Deepti Sachan, senior consultant and clinical lead at Dr Rela Institute and Medical Centre.

“When questioned, the hospital authorities said they are yet to secure a licence to operate the machine. Parents of the patients in need of platelets are forced to travel to other hospitals such as the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, which use single donor platelets (SDP) kits for treatment,” said Srivatsav Vema, a member of the Platelet Club.

An apheresis machine is a device that receives blood from a donor and separates blood components like plasma, platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells. Depending on the instructions, one of the components is isolated and collected by the instrument, and others can be returned to the body.

“Usually from a donor’s whole blood (without separating the components), only 50ml of platelet can be obtained. In contrast, by using an apheresis machine, over 250 ml can be obtained from a single donor. But without the machine, five to six donors are required to get the same amount of platelets. The main advantage of the machine is that the chances of reaction due to blood transfusion (platelet) are less and the required amount of platelet can be collected from a single donor,” said Dr Deepti

When questioned, a senior doctor at the Government Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children told TNIE, “We had completed the process of applying for the license. However, it got delayed as the election model code of conduct was in place. We are expecting the license to be issued soon.”

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