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Thalassaemic Kids in a Bloody Mess

Times of India
12 July 2010
By Ajay Parmar
Jodhpur, India

Blame game, committees, reports and alleged apathy not helping children of jodhpur
For the children in Jodhpur, who are suffering from thalassaemia, things could not get worse. Courtesy apathy and neglect of the authorities, these kids are allegedly subjected to infected blood. There are reports of HIV positive and hepatitis C cases pouring in everyday.

After five HIV positive cases were reported in December 2008 from here, three more kids were reported infected on May 8 after their blood samples were tested at the microbiology laboratory of the S N Medical College.

The Marwar Thalassaemia Society has issued memos to the principal of the S N Medical College demanding the setting up of nucleic acid test (NAT) technique and an updated thalassaemia ward. Earlier, the state government had constituted a committee headed by the director of the State AIDS Control Society R N D Purohit, who in his report, had suggested the need of adopting more advanced technique of blood donation but no action was taken. The secretary of the society, Vipin Gupta, said the recent cases could have been avoided if the report was taken seriously.

However, the principal of S N Medical College R K Aseri said the proposal to set up NAT technique has already been sent to the state government. But no action has been taken. Aseri, however, ruled out any method to ensure zero window period, which is the time taken for seroconversion after exposure to the HIV virus. Seroconversion is the development of detectable antibodies in the blood directed against an infectious agent. It normally takes some time for antibodies to develop after the initial exposure to the agent.

Following seroconversion, a person tests positive in tests based on the presence of antibodies. According to Gupta, the present technique used in testing blood during donation is enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA. “When we’ve the NAT technology, which has a window period of three to seven days, why allow children to be infected with HIV and HCV,” he asked.

But former associate professor (pathology), N M Mehta, said, “When we cannot do away with the window period, why not to be more cautious while drawing blood from the donor by adhering to the blood donation protocol, in which the entire history of the donor is tested.” He said the donor with suspicious credentials like a drug addict, alcoholic or frequent visitor to redlight areas should be avoided. Regarding the NAT technology, Mehta said this technique requires fully trained staff, which is hardly available.

Though, Gupta claimed that all those infected had taken blood from the Umaid Hospital, Mehta said that there is a possibility of these children getting blood from some unreliable source.

Thalassaemic Kids in a Bloody Mess
Crooked Lifeline
  • 130 children registered with the Marwar Thalassemia Society
  • 5 were found to be infected with HIV and 29 with HCV during tests on Dec 28, 2008
  • 3 found infected with HIV and 17 with HCV during tests on May 8, 2010
  • 2 infected with hepatitis ‘B’ virus.
  • One thalassaemic girl died of the infection in January, 2010
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