The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bad blood earns court rap
- Screen on samples ordered, with lifelong damages for HIV patient

Beware of bad blood or be prepared to have blood on your hands, is the chilling message from the court to the health department.

Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered the director of health services, West Bengal, to make special arrangements for testing the blood samples of donors before transfusion.

Justice Pranab Kumar Chatterjee also directed the government department to sensitise the management of all blood banks, hospital doctors and other persons involved in the procedure to the need for screening and maintaining reports of blood samples.

A detailed communication to this effect should be sent immediately to all concerned, the court observed.

Justice Chatterjee passed the directive following a petition by the family members of a 52-year-old woman, who was found to be HIV-positive after undergoing blood transfusion in Burdwan Medical College and Hospital during a gall-bladder operation.

The judge, after hearing all arguments, found the allegation by the petitioners to be absolutely true and directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 25,000 to the family members of the AIDS victim.

The judge also directed the state to pay Rs 5,100 to the petitioners as cost of the case.

Justice Chatterjee said in his order that the government would also have to bear the treatment cost and the maintenance fees for the wife of Girin Ghosh till the end. The petition was filed by Ghosh and others, residents of Bhatar, in Burdwan, stating that his wife had been admitted to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital with gall-bladder trouble. As she was anaemic, the attending doctors advised blood transfusion during surgery.

On the day of the operation, in July 2000, two of the patient’s sons donated blood — without a proper screening being carried out. A few days after the surgery, one of them, Paran, was found to be HIV-positive. “Paran had been working in Delhi and had come home to be with his mother during her illness,” said the petitioner’s lawyer. A few days after donating blood to his mother, Paran was taken ill. He was later found to be HIV-positive and succumbed to the disease in March 2001.

Within months of Paran’s death, his mother developed similar symptoms. When doctors at Burdwan Medical College and Hospital were alerted, they advised a fresh blood test and she was found to be HIV-positive.

Ghosh told the court that the family members were living as virtual “outcasts” in the village and were finding it impossible to bear the medical expenses of his wife’s treatment in the hospital, where all their woes had begun.

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