Karnataka plasma warriors bringing light into people’s lives
MYSURU: They are the guiding lights amid the dark pandemic times -- being a bridge between plasma donors and needy patients.
It is past 5 pm in New Jersey when most people return from work, but at Santhosh Shankaranarayan’s house, the clock switches to Indian Standard Time as he starts coordinating several messages and requests for plasma from India, a routine which continues till 3am.
Santhosh, a techie from Bengaluru, is now settled in New Jersey, but he is doing his best to serve those hit by the pandemic, miles apart, by helping them source plasma which has become one of the major modes of therapy for those hit by the novel coronavirus. Even though the efficacy of plasma therapy is largely disputed and the Centre is set to remove it from the treatment guidelines, it is still widely used.
According to Santhosh, what motivated him is the death of a Covid-19 positive father and daughter who he is acquainted with, for whom they tried hard to get the plasma, but it got delayed.
“This incident made us understand how the kin struggle to save the lives of their near and dear ones. And plasma could have helped them,” says Santhosh who has been helping several Covid-19 patients, especially the expat community across the US. However, he did not stop there. Wanting to serve the people back in India too, he has so far helped hundreds of Covid-19 patients across the country.
He has even started a Facebook group towards this where volunteers post requests for plasma and other members who have also met online help connect with other volunteers from across the country, mainly Bengaluru, Mysuru and other cities like Chennai and Patna. The group has over 18,500 people as members and they also motivate recovered patients to donate plasma.
Meanwhile, in Mysuru’s busy commercial hub of Ashoka Road, people identify Anand Mandoth who is into mobile distribution as a busy man. But little do many of his business partners know about his round-the-clock networking to source plasma. Anand says sourcing plasma for the needy is his primary work now, pointing to a diary which he carries with him, even to his bed, with details of Covid-19 survivors who are ready for plasma donation as well as the names and numbers of people who are due for donation.
He says that the networking he used to do for sourcing blood donors has helped him to enable plasma donation. He has a long list of people who he helped to get plasma and who recovered thereafter. Fathaheen Misbah, an IT Engineer with Infosys Technologies, is the go-to person for many for sourcing plasma. She says that awareness is one crucial area that has been lagging.
Earlier associated with the much successful Covid-19 Sahaya task force of the state, she has been helping many to source plasma from across the country and has been creating awareness about donating plasma.
With concerns over the efficacy of the plasma therapy echoing, Santhosh says, “For those on the death bed, every effort is valuable, the guilt of not having tried the best would linger forever. I have seen many recover after plasma therapy.”