Visakhapatnam

Reaching out to patients needing plasma

Lotla Sudarshan had come forward to donate plasma for four times, despite having suffered and recovered from COVID.  

One of the critical aspects for COVID-19 treatment, especially for those who are moderately infected with the coronavirus, is finding a plasma donor.

To solve the problem, a few city-based youth have formed an organisation called Vizag Volunteers. Karnatakapu Satish and Geddada Jagadish were instrumental in setting up this organisation.

Satish is a software professional and Jagadish is with the Indian Air Force.

They teamed up with Sugandhi of AS Raja Blood Bank to give the family members of the patients some solution, when they are desperate for plasma and all at no cost, especially when plasma is being sold in the black at exorbitant prices. So far they have received about 500 distress calls since August and have found donors for about 100.

Speaking to The Hindu, Satish said, “We started the organisation, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a nation-wide lockdown, in March. Initially, we were into the supply of food, essentials and masks and sanitisers to the needy. We floated a WhatsApp group and within 24 hours we got close to 200 volunteers.”

From supplying food to the needy at the shelter homes, they took up mass distribution of food at three places along the 72-km NH stretch that passes through the city, for the migrants who were on an exodus at that time.

‘Uphill task’

“Most of the food was cooked at the homes of the volunteers and we organised a distribution network with our volunteers,” said Mr. Satish. “But in August, we found that plasma was the need of the hour, as people were desperate to find a donor and it was being sold in the black market,” he added.

Teaming up with a team from AS Raja Blood Bank, Vizag Volunteers began the work under the guidance of Dr. Sugandhi. The challenge was to find a donor and for plasma, a donor should have recovered from COVID and should have passed the 28 days recovery period after testing negative. Most importantly, the plasma should be of high value, which means the donor should not have any comorbidities and pass some other criteria. This was an uphill task, said Dr. Sugandhi.

Call centre

To begin with, Satish has his team, which swelled to over 400 by now, started a call centre.

The idea was to call those who were infected and who have recovered, to convince them to become a donor. But the major challenges were to get a list of patients, convince them and check their health parameters.

“While 80% of our calls turned out to be cold and 80 out 100 were rejected on some ground. But we did not lose heart. We struck a silver lining in our struggle when Cyberabad Police in Telangana recognised our work and linked us up with their website and when Lotla Sudarshan, a youth, had come forward to donate plasma for four times, despite having suffered and recovered from COVID,” said Mr. Satish.

“People like Sudarshan have motivated us to do more, despite each test and collection costing over ₹12,000. Moreover, people should realise, unlike blood donation, plasma is recovered in the body within a few hours and people should not hesitate to donate,” said Dr. Sugandhi.


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 6:07:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/reaching-out-to-patients-needing-plasma/article33225734.ece

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