Meet the doctor who's at the forefront of Assam's plasma donation movement
New Delhi: Dr Bhaskar Papukan Gogoi is slowly becoming a household name in the medical community of Assam. Gogoi’s most recent commendation is as a result of his work in plasma donation movement in these trying times, as Assam tackles COVID-19.
Gogoi is truly altruistic in every sense of the word. He is known all over the state for his nobility when he saved an eight-day-old child from death in 2017. The infant was diagnosed with a condition in which the first waste released enters the lungs. The baby was placed on a ventilator and was to take a flight to Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital to receive intensive treatment. By pulling all the strings he could, involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top police officials, Gogoi ensured the little baby was given a green corridor passage – something that is reserved for emergencies of VVIPs, Delhi – to avoid road traffic on that busy Saturday night – and she got to Delhi on time to receive treatment, when all hope seemed to be lost.
His recent work in spreading plasma donation awareness has once again warmed people's hearts towards the good doctor. Ever since Assam started the convalescent plasma treatment therapy at Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH), Dibrugarh, medical professionals like Gogoi have been at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19. Gogoi is now often referred to as a ‘Plasma Hero’.
The plasma therapy requires donors to donate plasma towards the fight against the pandemic. So far, Assam has witnessed some remarkable people coming out to donate plasma. When asked if the donations were willingly done and why there has been an insufficiency in donors, Gogoi says, "I've seen people generally interested in donating plasma. But the problem is people who should donate plasma because they are symptomatic, are yet to be eligible.”
"The way it works is that there is a 28-day gap from being declared negative and developing antibodies," he says, adding, "Because of that long waiting period, we get the symptomatic cases late, thus we’re facing difficulties in finding donors who are eligible. Also, most women do not meet the criteria for eligibility, which includes no childbirth, and weight shouldn't be beyond 50kg, or less than 8 haemoglobin count."
Gogoi also revealed that his work towards creating awareness for plasma donations and encouraging donors has led him to collaborate with Marwari Yuva Manch (MYM). Speaking from the donor's perspective, "I've met a few donors who are really excited about donating as they are also getting ready for government's exams and jobs. The government recently announced several incentives for donors of plasma. These donors are to be considered preferential for jobs and various government policies and schemes as a reward for joining in the fight against the pandemic.”
More than 300 nurses, doctors and health officials who have recovered from the virus have joined the fight against the pandemic by donating plasma to labs in Guwahati. These donors, according to Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, will be given certificates, which will ensure they are at the top of the preferential list for jobs. Plasma donors will get two marks if they are involved in any interview or test.
Gogoi also elucidates on the quantity of plasma required from donors. He says the donor is only required to donate about 400 ml of plasma. "No private hospital is equipped with plasmapheresis yet to collect plasma; the ones equipped are Tezpur Medical College, Guwahati Medical College, Assam Medical College, Jorhat Medical College, and very soon Silchar Medical College will be fully equipped," he says.
In the fight against the pandemic, Gogoi’s contribution in plasma therapy has saved lives. He notes several remarkable situations he has encountered during this fight. "A few days ago, I facilitated a plasma unit for a COVID patient in Dibrugarh. With that the plasma bank at AMCH got exhausted, and by 8 pm I was informed of the urgent need for plasma by one of the nurses who contracted COVID during one of her shifts. I reached out to Jorhat Medical College and they too were also out of plasma," he says.
"Fortunately, Dr MD Ashif from Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) plasma bank got hold of a batch. Transporting it to Dibrugarh from Guwahati posed another challenge. I reached out to Marwari Yuva Manch (MYM), although it was just a couple of hours after our partnership. The executives at MYM helped collect the plasma from GMCH and through a wonderful chain of people the plasma unit arrived safely at AMCH. These men are fellow warriors in the fight against this virus and I'm really grateful for their assistance," he adds cheerfully.
He notes with glee some other outstanding cases he has come across, like when they received a plasma request very late at night for the renowned Hindu priest Mahant Chandra Das. Once again Dr MD Ashif came through; he arranged an AB +ve at GMCH. However, transport again posed a major challenge. "I reached out to the deputy general of police, Bhaskar Mahanta, and in no time he dispatched some men who brought the plasma as soon as they could. The hospital received the plasma and got to work. The police did an amazing job responding as they did," he smiled.
There are many other instances in which Gogoi has helped patients with procuring plasma. Some cases include when he helped a Dibrugarh family in getting plasma from AMCH or when he and members of MYM bore the expense in getting plasma from GMCH.
Even though the world currently faces a difficult battle, we have hope for victory because we have medical experts and humanitarians like Gogoi, who have dedicated their time, resources, expertise and their entire being to ensure the world is a healthier and better place.