Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
It is shocking. But it is the reality. The Government of Orissa is contributing to spread of AIDS by sleeping over evidences of transfusions of HIV positive blood in hospitals in the State, in absence of facilities for proper screening.
The reality has come to light through a very poor person of Baramba Tahsil, Pratap Kumar Nayak, whose son of only 17 months of age is infected with the dreaded disease due to presence of the virus in the blood he was transfused with during an operation.
In a chilling case before the Orissa High Court (W.P.(C) No.13441 of 2009) Nayak narrated that his son Adarsh was born on 21 Oct.2007 in a Public Health Center (PHC) in Nayagarh district by way of normal delivery. But a day thereafter it was found that the baby had no anal canal. On contact, the PHC, not equipped with a pediatric specialist as it is, advised Nayak to consult Khurda hospital, where, a Dr. Jayaram Patra diverted him to a Dr. Subrat Mohanty, pediatrician, who again diverted Nayak to a private hospital of Bhubaneswar, The Neelachal Hospital. Nayak admitted his 3 days old son in this hospital on 24 Oct. 2007. The next day, Dr. Mohanty conducted the operation and claimed that it was successful. The baby was given transfusion of a bottle of blood, obtained from Red-Cross Blood Bank, Municipal Hospital, Bhubaneswar on requisition by the surgeon and against payment of its cost, in course of the operation. At the time of discharge, he was advised for a second operation after 10 moths for which Nayak admitted his son to the same Neelachal Hospital on 18 August 2008. As transfusion of blood was made a prerequisite to operation, on requisition of the hospital, a bottle of blood was also procured from the said Red Cross Blood Bank, Municipal Hospital, Bhubaneswar on 19.8.2008 against payment of its cost and the baby was operated on that day. The second operation was also claimed to have been successful like the earlier one and the baby was discharged after ten days of the operation. As advised by the Doctor, the baby was again admitted in Neelachal Hospital on 25.2.2009 for final surgery.
As usual, before operation, the blood of the baby was tested. Shockingly, the report indicated HIV positive. Dr. Mohanty withheld operation and advised Nayak and his wife to go to ICTC Centre for testing of their blood on 2.3.2009. On testing their blood it was found to be negative and the blood of the child was found to be HIV positive. Thereafter the baby was taken to S.C.B. Medical College & Hospital, Cuttack for collection of blood sample and the same was sent to M.K.C.G. Medical College, Berhampur for testing and also for CD 4 counting and the count was 1139 cells per M.M. on 17.3.2009. On 26.8.2009 Dr. Mohanty refused to operate the baby on the ground that there is no facility in Neelachal Hospital for operation of HIV positive patient.
As the parents’ blood test proved that they had no HIV infection, it was proved that the baby was infected with AIDS because of the blood transfused to him on being procured from the blood bank.
But, before the High Court, the State Government asserted that the blood supplied by the Blood Bank was screened for infectious diseases, specifically AIDS and was found negative. Where from the infection then came to the baby born to parents not at all infected with HIV positive?
The infection comes through (i) Unsafe sex, (ii) child born through HIV affected persons, (iii) through needles, and (iv) through blood transfusion.
The High Court determined that the baby being hardly 17 months old, he had no scope of infection from unsafe sex. His parents were not infected; hence infection through parents was ruled out. There was no possibility of infection through needles, as the hospital used only disposable needles to which the parents of the baby were witnesses. Thus the only cause of infection was the transfusion of infected blood.
How could then the HIV virus was not detected during screening of the blood? It was found that, blood screening in Orissa is not being done in Nuclear Antizen Test (NAT) or Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) method, as a result of which, HIV virus is escaping detection.
As per medical science, the length of time following the infection of an individual to develop detectable antibodies is about three months after the infection. This is called the “Window Period”. The blood that Nayak received was certainly collected in this “Wndow Period”. NAT/PCR method could have detected the infection during the “Window Period”, but, as these methods are not in use in Orissa, the poor baby, for no fault of his own or of his parents, developed HIV positive.
“There is no provision in the State to identify virus during the Window Period. Unless special test known as Antizen Test is conducted through Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) method, the virus cannot be identified during the Window Period i.e. during three months of infection. Therefore, the receipt given by the blood bank stating therein that the blood units are tested against HIV seems to be a myth” claimed Ms. Sujata Jena, Nayak’s lawyer in the High Court.
The Court has agreed with her and awarded cash compensation to the infected child, by making the following direction a must for the Government:
Needless to say that blood donated by one saves life of another. Donation of blood is a noble work. In order to achieve this avowed objective all necessary safeguards must be taken while collecting, testing, storing and supplying blood. Otherwise, instead of saving the life, the contaminated blood would take the life. It is not disputed that during window period, unless the special test known as Antizen test is conducted through Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) method, the virus cannot be identified. Therefore, the Government must ensure that in all blood Banks the Polymer Chain Reaction (PCR) method is available to identify the virus of HIV during window period. We, further direct opposite party no.1-State to provide free medical treatment to the baby of the petitioner who is a HIV patient.
The judgment was delivered on 28 July 2011.
A year has elapsed. The State Government has not honored the judgment.
Infected blood is going on being transfused sans any check.
AIDS is admittedly menacingly spreading in the State.
Innumerable Nayaks are perishing.
The Government of Naveen Patnaik is so very busy in serving POSCO and the likes, that there is perhaps no time for it to read the High Court verdict even.
Any blood collected in camps and through campaigns such as of Ama Odisha may be HIV infected blood in “window Period”.
Everyone getting a transfusion is vulnerable to AIDS as recalcitrance of the government as discussed above is aiding to its spreading.
Will the High Court please take a note of it?