Calcutta, Oct. 13: For about two months last year, Ananda Saha had bouts of fever which the doctors dismissed as “unexplained”. A patient of thalassaemia, which was detected when he was barely one and a half years old, Ananda was never a healthy child.
Every month, Ananda’s father Malay Saha, a fruit seller in North 24-Parganas’ Habra, would take him to NRS Medical College and Hospital for blood transfusion.
“Life for us was tough, but after the blood transfusion Ananda would happily play,” Malay said.
“But in October last year, when Ananda was two and a half years old, he started having fever, which would recede after some days but then come back in a day or two.”
A doctor advised Ananda be tested for HIV. The test was conducted in December last year and, to the horror of the family, the result was positive.
Eight months later, three-year-old Ananda was dead.
“We asked many doctors and they all said he had been infected while taking transfusions,” Malay said.
“How do these things happen in a reputed hospital'”
The answer could be that the blood Ananda was given had been tested with one of the faulty kits supplied by Calcutta-based businessman Govind Sarda, now under arrest.
Health officials fear thousands of people may have received contaminated blood tested with kits which had passed their use-by dates.
“Govind Sarda had supplied blood test kits, which were either tampered with or had passed their expiry dates, not only to government-run blood banks and hospitals but also to private institutions,” city police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee said today.
“Sarda has been supplying these defective kits since December 2004,” he added.
Sujata Singh (name changed) may also have been a victim of one of the faulty kits. Born with a kidney defect, she had been on medication since she was a child. In 2003, at the age of 40, Sujata’s condition suddenly deteriorated and she had to be hospitalised.
Doctors said her haemoglobin level had dipped and she had to be given blood. “Periodically she had to be given blood,” said her brother Anil. “However, till November last year she had no other problem.”
Then Sujata started to have fever accompanied by nausea. A number of tests followed and at the end of November last year she was diag- nosed with Hepatitis B. She struggled for three months till succumbing in January this year.
“The infection in all probability came from the blood she received from a blood bank,” said nephrologist Jayanta Basu, who treated her.
Basu may not have been off the mark, confirmed oncology surgeon Gautam Mukhopadhyay. “I have had two patients in the last two years who underwent surgery and blood transfusion and later developed Hepatitis B and C,” he said.
Eleven-year-old Vishal Mandal of Belghoria, also a thalassaemia patient, has been undergoing blood transfusion for one and a half years.
Two months ago, he started having fever which would persist. Then followed a series of tests which revealed he had Hepatitis C.
His father, Swapan Mandal, said doctors had told him that Vishal had been infected by contaminated blood.