KARACHI: The Sindh health department appealed on Monday to recovered Covid-19 patients for plasma donations after being informed that the stock donated voluntarily had depleted.
The plasma collected from patients who have already recovered from the novel coronavirus was being used for passive immunisation of immunocompromised patients and bore fruitful results.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Dr Tahir Shamsi of the National Institute of Blood Disease (NIBD) said that the demand for plasma therapy had increased exponentially during the past month. "At least 50 patients have received the experimental treatment thus far and the results have been satisfactory," he said.
Now, however, the stock of voluntarily donated plasma has depleted, he said, adding that the institute had notified the Sindh government, the provincial health department and the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority, as well as other relevant department and agencies about it.
According to Dr Shamsi, over 100 patients across the country are in need of plasma therapy.
"The demand for plasma therapy has increased significantly," he said.
Meanwhile, appealing to recovered Covid-19 patients for donations, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that donating plasma would be "a national service" and help treat coronavirus patients across the country. The process of collecting donations is being carried out under the supervision of the blood transfusion authority with strict adherence to standard operating procedures, she added.
Dr Pechuho also said that those willing to donate can contact the NIBD and Bone Marrow Transplantation in Karachi, the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences in Jamshoro and the Peoples University of Medical and Health Sciences in Nawabshah.
Recovered patients can also reach out the relevant institutions on the helpline setup by the NIBD at 0333 2976390 for plasma donations, said Dr Shamsi while making the same appeal.
According to Dr Pechuho, passive immunisation can prevent patients from requiring ventilator. This, she said while flagging concern that there had been an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in persons with pre-existing heart conditions.
Several hospitals in Pakistan have been carrying out plasma therapy for passive immunisation of Covid-19 patients, with the first patient recovering successfully through the treatment in early May. Though, it is not a new medical treatment and has been done for the last 125 years.
According to Dr Shamsi, the therapy was used to cure patients of diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome, Ebola and influenza in the recent past.
Earlier, he had confirmed that the technique was being used in over 1,500 hospitals in some 80 countries to cure coronavirus patients.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2020.