Calcutta, June 7: As though being crippled by a blood disorder that requires at least a transfusion a month were not bad enough, a three-year-old is in for worse, and for no fault of his.
Nor are his hapless parents to blame for a blunder made in the pathology lab of a leading government hospital.
Ananda Saha (name changed) is today not only a thalassaemia patient, he is also HIV positive. The dreaded virus struck through the many blood transfusions the toddler has had to undergo at NRS Medical College and Hospital, thanks to an oversight in the lab or a faulty blood-testing kit.
Though Ananda was infected some time early last year, he was detected as HIV positive only as late as October. But hospital authorities withheld information about the virus from Ananda’s parents.
“My son used to feel well after every transfusion till last October. When we asked the doctors what was wrong with him, they did not tell us. Instead, they took blood samples from me and my wife,” his distraught father said.
On the advice of a local doctor, the boy’s parents had him tested for HIV last month. The test confirmed the virus.
Director of medical education C.R. Maity conceded such an incident had happened. He said the doctors at the hospital knew of the infection after tests by the haematology department, but was at a loss to explain why the toddler’s parents had been kept in the dark.
“The boy continues to be under our treatment. But I don’t know how he got infected with HIV,” Maity said.
However, Purnima Saumandal, principal of NRS, said: “I am not sure if the patient’s family had procured blood for transfusion only from our hospital. If not, our blood bank is not responsible for the infection. We only carried out the transfusion.”
Ananda was detected with thalassaemia about two-and-a-half years ago at Habra Hospital in North 24-Parganas. He was only four months old then. Once treatment began, his blood was transfused regularly as the haemoglobin count would keep dipping.
“I could not afford to buy blood from a private blood bank as I do not have the means, being just a vegetable seller. I went to several government hospitals, including SSKM, Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and NRS for my son’s transfusion. For the last one-and-a-half years, he was getting blood from NRS Medical College and Hospital,” Ananda’s father said.
Things took a turn for the worse last October when, inspite of regular transfusions, the child started showing signs of weakness and lack of immunity. The matter was then reported to the haematology department.
“When we told the doctors that Ananda was showing signs of weakness, they explained that it was due to his prolonged dependence on blood from other persons.”
Sensing something amiss, the parents took the boy to a local doctor, who immediately recommended an HIV test. They managed to get the child tested only last month.