Probe ordered after donor tests positive

At least four persons, including a woman, have reportedly acquired HIV infection after receiving blood transfusions at the blood bank of government–run Mangaldai Civil Hospital in northern Assam town Mangaldai in Darrang district.

On the World Blood Donors’ Day on Friday, it came to light that apart from other donors, these four had received blood donated by a youth of the town, who tested positive recently and undergoing treatment at the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centre of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital(GMCH).

While Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has ordered a high- level probe by Additional Chief Secretary P.P. Varma and asked him to submit the report in one month’s time, the Health Department has decided to rush a team of experts to Managaldai on Saturday to conduct a probe into the whole episode. The Darrang district administration has ordered a magisterial probe.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the team, comprising Heads of the Departments of Pathology and Hematology of GMCH, Blood Safety Officer of the Assam AIDS Control Society and Drugs Controller, had been asked to submit its report within 72 hours.

Mr. Sarma said that according to preliminary information two persons, who received blood transfusion from a particular donor had tested HIV positive and the donor too had tested positive. The hospital authorities had informed the Department that in two previous blood tests of the particular donor no HIV was detected.

“Under such circumstances it needs to be probed whether the hospital had actually conducted the blood tests of the donor and whether they have the required information and documents in this regard. Now since the donor has tested HIV positive, the scientific causes need to be ascertained. Whether it was due to carelessness of the official and staff of the blood bank or if it had occurred during the window period [the period between onset of HIV infection and the period when antibodies to the virus can be detected],” he said.

The Minister also stated that if the probe revealed any lapses on the part of hospital staff or officials, then exemplary punishment would be given, apart from departmental proceedings. Criminal cases would also be registered. He also announced that the State government would provide compensation to the affected.

Dr. S.I. Ahmed of AIDS Prevention Society said the donor was provided counselling.