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Chennai hospital honours plasma donors who helped save COVID-19 patients’ lives

Gleneagles Global Health City Hospital in Chennai organised an event where the people who had donated plasma after recovering from COVID-19 shared their experience.

“I am not here as a COVID-19 warrior,” began Dr Bhaskar Reddy of Gleneagles Global Health City Hospital in Perumbakkam, Chennai. “There are two dimensions to life – successful and purposeful. The former is when you take something from the society, and the latter is when you give back. As someone who has recovered from COVID-19, I was successful. But I also donated plasma, to be able to give back. This is my appeal to all COVID-19 warriors too – come forward [to donate plasma] and save lives.”

Dr Bhaskar was speaking at an event organised by the hospital to felicitate people who had donated plasma which was used to treat COVID-19 patients using convalescent plasma therapy. As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and finding a vaccine for it, there have been some treatments that have been found to help patients in the interim, and plasma therapy is one of them. It involves a recovered individual to donate blood from which plasma is derived. It is a part of the blood which is left when the red blood cells are removed. This plasma contains antibodies that the recovered persons has produced against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When this plasma is transfused to sick persons, it could help their immune system in fighting the coronavirus.

At the event, several doctors working at the Gleneagles hospital who had gotten infected with the coronavirus, received plasma and also donated it after recovering shared their experience. Some other persons also talked about how grateful they were to have received treatment and how they felt about donating blood post-recovery.

Dr Clara, Director of Nursing at the hospital, was the first to share her experience of having contacted COVID-19 and later, donating plasma. She said that the experience of having the disease made her empathise more with her patients. “Their pain, their suffering, their mental agony. I did not need to get admitted. But if I suffered so much at home, I could understand how each patient suffers due to coronavirus. The least we can do then is to give back, and give back with gratitude. When I finally donated plasma, it was not out of pride, but humility.”

Several people who had received plasma as well as donated it expressed gratitude towards the doctors, nursing as well as the housekeeping staff for taking care of them. An emotional Dr Balaji Pillai, a former COVID-19 patient, talked about his 28-day stay at the hospital and thanked the two donors whose plasma helped him recover. “I am still recovering, and will be back among you in the next 7-10 days. And I will become a plasma donor soon too,” he said.

Sindhuja, an actor in Tamil television who also got treated for COVID-19 at the hospital, said, “Initially I was shocked when they said that they had taken 350 ml blood. But when the doctor explained that this could be used to save two lives, I felt very proud.” She was followed by a man named Suresh, a recipient of plasma therapy. An emotional Suresh thanked the hospital staff for saving his life.

Another doctor, Dr Ashwin Karuppan V, Consultant, Department of Internal Medicine, Critical Care & Diabetology, who had gotten COVID-19 said, “I have experienced this coronavirus as a doctor, patient and a [plasma] donor. To quote Gandhi, be the change you wish to see in the world. If you don’t [donate plasma], you cannot motivate anyone else.”

In particular, several people thanked Dr Subramanian Swaminathan, Director of Department of Infectious Disease and Infection Control at the hospital. He revealed that he too had contracted the infection in March and had subsequently recovered. He pointed out that as doctors, back then, they had talked about the science aspects of COVID-19 but not the humanitarian aspect. Referring to his colleagues who had spoken before him about battling COVID-19, he said, “We didn’t anticipate having to treat our own friends. It is emotionally draining.”

He also thanked patients for putting their faith in the doctors at the hospital. Referring to plasma therapy, he noted that a single person’s donation could save multiple lives. He told Suresh who was in the audience that his plasma had already reached four people. “Plasma is like the secret sauce in this pandemic. We have seen patients doing much better after receiving the therapy. Sometimes we have to think of innovative ideas like plasma therapy for treatments. But it can’t be manufactured. It can only come with a key ingredient – goodwill. To people who have donated plasma – you are heroes and no one can take that away from you,” Dr Subramanian said. 

Source: The News Minute