The convalescent plasma therapy aims at using antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to treat those who are critically ill
Physicians have urged all the patients, who have recovered from the deadly disease Covid-19, to donate plasma to save the lives of other victims.
Meanwhile, after their recovery from the coronavirus infection, two doctors donated plasma at the blood transfusion centre of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), responding to the call of its haematologist Prof Dr MA Khan.
On May 16, the hospital started collecting plasma from the recovered patients to use it to treat people, severely infected with Covid-19.
Plasma, a yellowish liquid component of blood, carries the blood cells in whole blood in suspension.
The blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 people is called convalescent plasma, while the convalescent plasma therapy aims to use antibodies from the blood of a recovered patient to treat those who are critically ill.
Both the donors - Dildar Hossain Badal, medical officer at the Nephrology Department of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital, and Rawnak Jamil, a physician at Sir Salimullah Medical College Mitford Hospital - shared their safe and comfortable plasma donating experiences with Dhaka Tribune.
A Covid-19 recovered patient can give plasma every month instead of a regular three or four-month interval that is usually required for normal blood donation, they said.
Presence of an effective antibody in plasma is a must and after checking the antibody, anyone can donate plasma, they said.
Dr Badal said: "I have seen a post in doctors' private Facebook group where the head of Haematology Department at DMCH Dr MA Khan made a request to donate the plasma for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. I contacted them and donated it which took only 35 minutes. After giving the plasma, I attended my hospital duty.”
"If anyone gets well by using my plasma, it will be a great humanitarian work," he said.
Plasma taking process
Dr Badal said donating plasma was similar to giving blood and the process was easy and safe.
After coming to DMCH, the doctor underwent a blood test along with another check-up before the procedure.
The physician said he felt no pain or dizziness during the procedure and passed the time talking to others.
He said: "The plasma will be separated from the blood and the remaining blood will be transferred back to the body. So there will be no blood loss. They took 450 to 500 ml plasma from my body.”
"My blood group is O negative and my haemoglobin level was very good. But anyone with AB blood type can donate, as the plasma of this group suits everyone," he added.
Another plasma donor Dr Rawnak Jamil mentioned some challenges in the process of convalescent plasma therapy.
The biggest challenge in this therapy is identifying the donor with the required blood group, he said.
"The patients' blood groups need to be matched with the donors' ones [except the donors having AB blood group]."
Facing such a challenge, DMCH haematologist Dr MA Khan urged all the recovered Covid-19 patients to come forward to donate plasma to fight against the disease.
He told Dhaka Tribune that a similar text was sent to all patients for this purpose to save critical patients who are undergoing the ordeal.
Dr Rawnak said plasmapheresis is the process in which the liquid part of the blood, or plasma, is separated from the blood cells.
"Like platelet donation, the blood will go into a machine that separates the plasma and the rest of the blood is circulated back to the body. This takes about 35 minutes and during the time you just relax," he added.
As there is no certain treatment for Covid-19, the physician said he made up his mind to donate plasma with the belief it can save any critical patient.
Dr Badal, however, mentioned a recent practice in India where the recovered patients left hospitals after donating the plasma which is really helping to treat others.
People who have fully recovered from the disease for at least two weeks are encouraged to consider donating plasma, he added.
The physicians said that if recovered patients come forward, the plasma therapy might be a useful weapon to beat the coronavirus.
Covid-19, a severe acute respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus, has claimed 349 lives and infected 23,870 people in Bangladesh as of Monday.