Donated blood in Kashmir not safe for transfusion: DAK

Srinagar: On World Blood Donor Day, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) today said that donated blood in Kashmir is not safe for transfusion.

With outmoded screening tests being done on donated blood, President DAK Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement said that blood banks in the valley put patients at risk of life-threatening infections.

Blood banks screen blood and blood products for Hepatitis B, C and HIV viruses by conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test that does not detect very early stages of infection in donated blood.

These viruses have a “window period” of weeks to months during which the virus does not show up in the conventional test.

During this period any donated blood will transmit the infection to the recipient.

According to various studies one in every 500 units of blood collected from a donor can easily be missed by ELISA test even if it is infected.

In order to ensure safe blood, many countries have switched from ElISA to Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) technology for screening of donated blood.

NAT detects viruses even in the window period and its introduction has eliminated the transmission of deadly viruses by blood transfusion.

While several states in India have adopted NAT to screen blood, blood banks in Kashmir continue to use traditional methods thus jeopardizing the safety of blood.

The infected blood is responsible for colossal hepatitis epidemic in the valley.

Out of 90 hemophiliac patients screened, 45 patients were positive for Hepatitis C, 4 for Hepatitis B and one was positive for HIV.

These hemophiliac patients have contracted this deadly virus because of contaminated fresh frozen plasma (FFP), a blood product which they receive on demand during bleeding.

According to a study, 38% of the population of two twin villages of Takia-Magam and Sonbarie were found to be infected with Hepatitis C virus.

During a screening in 2015, 84 persons were found positive for Hepatitis B virus in village Diver of Lolab area.

There are around 459 cases of HIV infection registered in SKIMS hospital.

“Although blood transfusion is life-saving, but unsafe blood transfusion is life-threatening”.

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