The Ernakulam district hospital at Aluva has acquired the license to start aphaeresis, a procedure through which part of blood such as platelets or white blood cells can be taken out and the rest of the blood can be returned to the donor. The facility will start within two weeks and will be mainly beneficial to cancer and dengue patients. State drugs controller and licensing authority, while renewing the license of the hospital’s blood bank, granted permission to start aphaeresis procedure along with. Recently, following a TOI report, Union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda had visited the unit and promised all support for starting the blood cell separation facility and promised all help. “The donor’s blood is passed through a machine and required components are separated. Major demand is for platelets, especially for dengue and cancer patients,” said medical officer in charge of the blood bank, Dr Vijayakumar. While the normal method can separate just one unit of platelets from a donor, six to eight units of platelets can be extracted from a single donor using the aphaeresis machine.
“And after three days, the same donor can donate blood again. At present they should wait for three months before they can donate again,” said Vijayakumar. As of now, in the state, the facility is available at three medical colleges, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology and a couple of private hospitals. The rates charged by the private hospitals for aphaeresis facility is anything between ₹12,000 and 13,000. At the district hospital, the rate is fixed at ₹6500. “We got the machine five months ago. Now with the license, we just need to purchase the kit,” the medical officer said. The blood bank authorities had sought the support of National Health Mission (NHM) for meeting the expenses for operating the facility. While treating diseases such as cancer and dengue, platelets would be required on a large scale as the platelet count of a patient would go down drastically. If one unit of platelet is infused, the platelet count in the patient would go up by 10,000. Normally, doctors in the state opt for blood transfusion when platelet count depletes to 20,000. – TOI