Dengue has claimed a life and stung 442 people across Bihar till Friday but the government still lacks basic medical infrastructure to combat the disease.
Experts foresee a crisis if excessive number of dengue cases are reported at a time because there are only four places in the state capital — Patna Medical College and Hospital, Mahavir Cancer Sansthan, Kurji Holy Family Hospital and Jai Prabha Hospital Blood Bank — which have blood component separators.
“Blood component separator is crucial in the treatment of dengue patients but unfortunately, the state capital has only four blood component separators. This is not sufficient in case any epidemic breaks out. Blood component separators are used in separating platelet-rich plasma from blood,” said Dr Diwakar Tejaswi, one of the well-known physicians of the state capital.
Tejaswi added: “Doctors infuse concentrated blood (comprising red blood corpuscles, white blood corpuscles and platelets) in the person suffering from dengue only if they do not get platelets. Doctors prefer infusing platelet-rich plasma into the dengue patient because the platelet count drops drastically in the body. The other components of the blood, including red blood corpuscles and white blood corpuscles, stay within their normal parameters. If the concentrated blood, which has red blood corpuscles, white blood corpuscles and plasma, is infused into the affected person, the platelet count in the affected person’s blood would surely increase but the red blood corpuscle and white blood corpuscle count in the patient would also shoot up. This overload of red blood corpuscles and white blood corpuscles will affect the liver and sometimes, the kidney too. This might lead to cardiac arrest also.” Tejaswi said the life span of platelets is only four days. So platelets cannot be stored for a long time.
Sounding a note of caution, Tejaswi explained that in the case of an epidemic, the state capital would be incapable of coping with the situation. He said: “It takes six to seven hours to separate platelet-rich plasma from blood. In case of an epidemic, how can the state capital deal with the situation when so many units of platelets are needed at the same time?”
Nalanda Medical College and Hospital in the state capital also lacks a blood component separator.
Shiv Kumari Prasad, the superintendent of the medical college and hospital, said: “At present, we have no blood component separator but we are in the process of installing one.”
An official at the state branch of National Red Cross Society also confirmed that they do not have a blood component separator. R.P. Singh, the technical supervisor at the blood bank of Mahavir Cancer Sansthan, said: “We treat cancer patients at our facility. In the course of treatment, the platelet count decreases in the patient’s blood. We require three to four units of platelets for each cancer patient everyday and it takes a lot of time to separate platelet-rich plasma from blood. So, we have to procure platelets from Patna Medical College and Hospital at times.”
Singh also admitted that the state capital would face a crisis in case of an epidemic.
Experts also said patient parties often face difficulty searching for platelets of rare blood groups.
“I got to know from someone that on Wednesday a dengue patient’s family had to face a tough time when they could not find platelets of O negative, a rare blood group. They finally got the platelets after managing to track a person with the same blood group. We know that blood banks in Patna do not have regular donors. In case one needs blood of rare groups, one will have face difficulty. Imagine what can happen at the time of an epidemic, when several units of platelets of rare blood groups are needed at a time?” said Tejaswi.