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NE to get safest blood transfusion

- Samples sent for HIV, hepatitis tests

Imphal, April 22: Shija Blood Bank at Imphal’s Shija Hospitals and Research Institute raises the hope of having the world’s safest blood transfusion system in the entire northeastern region and eastern India.

Shija Blood Bank has started receiving samples for nucleic acid test (NAT) from Cordlife India, Calcutta, for screening of HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses and is expected to receive more samples from states in the Northeast including Manipur.

“Shija Blood Bank has received 726 blood samples from Cordlife for screening of HIV, Hepatitis B and C. The facilities, known as NAT- Cobas S 201 from Roche Diagnostics. It was installed nearly two years back at Shija Blood bank is the first in eastern India,” Kh. Palin, chairman-cum-managing director of the hospital, told The Telegraph. Cordlife India is a subsidiary of Cordlife Group with headquarters in Singapore.

Shija’s is the ninth blood bank to have the facility in India. NAT is mandatory for blood before transfusion in all the developed countries such as the US, the UK, New Zealand, Brazil, Singapore, among others, to prevent transfusion transmitted infection.

“We have six cases of blood samples, which tested negative for HIV and hepatitis C and B virus in the conventional test, but found positive in NAT. Thanks to the facility available here, we could stop transfusing contaminated blood to patients,” Palin said.

Shija Blood Bank works on a public-private-partnership (PPP) model with contributions from North Eastern Council, Manipur government and Shija Hospitals, located at Langol on the outskirts of Imphal city. The Shija team’s dream is to make Manipur a destination for health tourism in Southeast Asia.

Shija Hospitals holds a Guinness record for removing world’s biggest tumour — 1.2 kg — from the neck of a 12-day-old baby in 2004.

The NAT facility is very important in the region, particularly in Manipur, because of its high prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis C and also its location as a border state.

NAT is considered as the most advanced technology for screening HIV, Hepatitis C and B virus and can detect the virus as early as in six to nine days, compared to about 30 days by other conventional tests.

Palin submitted a proposal to the Okram Ibobi Singh government to make NAT mandatory for blood before transfusion in the state for safety and also requested the government to sponsor the cost of NAT (Rs 1,500 per test) to avoid burden of the poor patient.

“The chief minister has assured us of a policy decision on the matter,” Palin said.

Similar proposals have been submitted to Nagaland government for sending the samples of blood collected at their blood banks for NAT. Other states of the Northeast will be approached to avail of the facility in Manipur, Palin said.


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