India's first COVID-19 patient to receive plasma therapy discharged

The patient was treated at Delhi's Max Hospital

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India's first COVID-19 patient to be administered the Convalescent Plasma Therapy  has fully recovered and was discharged on Sunday from Delhi's Max Hospital.

The 49-year-old male patient from Delhi had tested positive for novel coronavirus on April 4, and was admitted to the COVID facility at the hospital with moderate symptoms. His condition deteriorated during the next few days and he soon required external oxygen to maintain saturation. He soon developed pneumonia with Type I respiratory failure and had to be put on ventilator support on April 8. When the patient showed no improvement in his condition, his family requested the hospital for administration of plasma therapy on compassionate grounds, a first of its kind treatment modality that was used for this disease in India. 

The family came forward to arrange a donor for extracting plasma. The donor had recovered from the infection (confirmed by two consecutive negative reports) three weeks before her donation and again tested COVID-19 negative at the time of donation along with other standard tests to rule out infections like Hep B, Hep C and HIV. The 49-year-old critically ill patient was administered fresh plasma as a treatment modality as a side-line to standard treatment protocols on April 14.

He had been weaned off ventilator support seven days ago.

According to doctors, a single donor can donate 400ml of Plasma which can save two lives, as 200ml is sufficient to treat one patient.

After receiving the treatment, the patient showed progressive improvement and by the fourth day, on April 18, he was weaned off ventilator support and continued on supplementary oxygen. He had started taken oral feed in 24-hours of being off ventilator support. He was shifted to a room with round-the-clock monitoring on Monday after testing negative twice within 24 hours. 

“With sustained efforts by a team of doctors comprising of Dr Omender Singh, head, Critical Care, Dr Deven Juneja, Critical Care and Dr Sangeeta Pathak, Head, Blood Bank; and all frontline healthcare workers including junior doctors, nurses, GDAs and lab technicians among others and a strong will power of the patient himself, he was finally discharged today (Sunday). He will home for another two weeks as per government guidelines,” the hospital said.

Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, Group Medical Director, Max Healthcare, and Senior Director of Institute of Internal Medicine, said: “We are delighted that the therapy worked well in his case, opening a new treatment opportunity during these challenging times. But it is important that we also understand that plasma therapy is no magic bullet. During the patient’s treatment at Max Hospital, other standard treatment protocols were followed and we can say that Plasma Therapy could have worked as a catalyst in speeding up his recovery. We cannot attribute 100 per cent recovery to plasma therapy only, as there are multiple factors which carved his path to recovery.”

Abhay Soi, chairman, Max Healthcare, said: “In a country like India, a therapy of such kind has a good potential to help critically ill COVID patients. Recent modifications in government regulations have made it more accessible for hospitals in various states. We need positive support from individuals who have recovered from the disease to come forward as donors.”