Meghalaya is not faring nearly as bad as other states during the second wave of COVID-19. However, the state has seen few people volunteer as plasma donors, said North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) Director, Dr P Bhattacharya in an exclusive interview with EastMojo.
Dr Bhattacharya said last year they gave plasma to eight patients, all of whom then came out of the ICU. Of the 8, one person died of other complications, while the other seven recovered and went home.
“We are now in a position to treat 10 patients at least for COVID-19 who need plasma,” said Dr Bhattacharya. He informed that 28 plasma have been collected so far. They currently have 20 units, so they can treat ten patients. Dr Bhattacharya added that plasma isn’t given to every patient.
“Our results are good because we chose patients properly and gave proper plasma. We are currently in a position to treat ten patients, but we treat only those patients, who, our doctors believe, will benefit from the treatment,” added Dr Bhattacharya.
He informed that the blood blank allocates two units per patient. NEIGRIHMS currently has 20 units, so they can treat ten patients immediately. The management is currently working to collect more plasma, he added.
“It is very occasional that one or two people are coming forward to donate plasma. It is disappointing…this is something people could have done. Now, the issue that has come up we are not collecting plasma from people who are vaccinated. We are collecting plasma from those who have had COVID and meet the criteria,” mentioned Dr Bhattacharya.
He reminded everyone that only selected patients benefit from plasma. Not all those who have recovered from COVID can donate plasma.
‘NEIGRIHMS is well prepared’
Talking about NEIGRIHMS’ preparedness apart from the issue of plasma, Dr Bhattarcharya said the hospital has 20 ICU beds ready and can provide 100 beds with oxygen.
“Generally, we expect that given the population of Meghalaya, and given the complicated cases that come to us that come from other states, we should be in a good position. We were able to tackle it last time, similarly, we will be able to do so this time,” informed Dr Bhattacharya.
When asked how Shillong suddenly witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases, Dr Bhattacharya said no tests were being conducted for a long time. Once RT-PCR tests became paid, people were not coming forward, he added.
“We had our head in the sand. We thought there was nothing. People were also not wearing masks. If we had followed the previous system of masking etc. thoroughly, this would not have happened,” mentioned Dr Bhattacharya.
Regarding oxygen availability at the NEIGRIHMS, Dr Bhattacharya said they have enough for now. The only question is when would it be replenished.
“Every time oxygen finishes, a second supply has to come in. As long as supply comes in, there should be no problems in Meghalaya,” mentioned Dr Bhattacharya.
He further suggested that one can be smarter knowing about the shortage in many parts of the country.
He said that if a patient is brought to casualty, they immediately plug in a mask and give a 10-litre oxygen flow rate. Instead, they should find out if the patient asked or needed the oxygen.
“We are following protocol that if a patient has 90-92 per cent oxygen, we don’t give oxygen. We ask the patient to prone or semi-prone, so oxygenation becomes better. We don’t need to give oxygen for a longer period, so we save oxygen. When needed we give,” said Dr Bhattacharya.
He also informed that the vaccination at NEIGRIHMS has picked up. Earlier just 30-40 people were vaccinated but now it is approaching 100 people per day.