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April 3, 2020

Pakistan’s first recovered covid-19 patient donates blood for treating disease


April 3, 2020

Pakistan’s first coronavirus patient, Yahya Jaffri, who has fully recovered from the disease, donated on Thursday his blood at the Children’s Hospital and Research Institute Karachi for the extraction of plasma, which could be used for the treatment of a critical patient infected with \ COVID-19. Jaffri vowed that he would donate blood again, if required for a patient.

“This young man, Yahya Jaffri, has come forward to donate his blood for the extraction of plasma, which can be transfused to a critical patient of COVID-19 as per the advice a physician and health authorities. We urge the health authorities in Sindh to formulate a policy in this regard and issue guidelines so that this method of treatment could be used in Pakistan, which is being used in many countries, including the United States," said Dr Saqib Ansari, noted haematologist, while addressing a news conference at his health centre on Thursday.

Accompanied by Yahya Jaffri, his parents and cricketer Roman Rais, Dr Ansari described Jaffri as a hero. He said so far 96 people had fully recovered from COVID-19 in Pakistan and of these people, men aging between 18 to 50 years could donate their blood for the extraction of plasma, which could later be used for the treatment of critical patients infected with coronavirus.

Dr Ansari urged the federal and provincial governments to come up with clear guidelines and a policy for the usage of plasma of the recovered coronavirus patients in Pakistan, saying many countries of the world, including China, were using this technique in combination with many other methods to treat COVID-19 patients, which proved highly effective in many cases.

“We don’t want money, any machinery or workforce as the Children’s Hospital Karachi is ready to offer its services free of charge. Not only we but many public and private hospitals in Karachi and other cities of the country can collect blood from the recovered coronavirus patients and remove plasma which can be transfused to critically sick patients,” Dr Ansari said.

He said the process of acquiring and processing of the plasma cost Rs20,000 for a bag of blood but their hospital was ready to bear this cost for the betterment of humanity. “We are not treating coronavirus patients so we can provide the plasma to physicians and health facilities where such patients are under treatment and need this method of treatment,” he added.

The blood diseases specialist maintained that currently healthcare providers were working on three fronts to handle the coronavirus pandemic: limiting the outbreak, treating the patients, and controlling the panic caused in the society.

Briefing about the use of plasma for the treatment of critically sick patients of COVID-19, he said that based on the latest studies in Beijing in collaboration with world’s leading research institutes, plasma infusion in critical patients of coronavirus had yielded excellent results.

“According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States, WHO and some other reputable institutions, plasma transfusion is being used across the world for

the treatment of critical patients of the disease”, Dr Ansari said, citing the example of the US where the FDA has publicly appealed to the recovered patients of coronavirus to donate their plasma for other COVID-19 patients.

“The Children’s Hospital Karachi and the Houston’s Methodist Hospital of the US are already collaborating with each other in this regard. Dr Faisal Masood at the Methodist Hospital Houston is sharing his research and data with us,” he said, adding that both the institutions are closely monitoring the developments across the world in this regard.

Dr Ansari maintained that this therapy was only being applied to the critically sick patients as almost 90 per cent of the affected people get recovered without being admitted to intensive care units and only a small number of coronavirus patients are admitted to the ICUs. “Such patients can be administrated the plasma and medical experts believe that the therapy is producing positive results”, Dr Ansari said.

Jaffi said that the pandemic would become a chapter of the history very soon but what would be remembered forever “is our resilience, resolve and commitment”. “I have come to donate blood so that the lives of people could be saved. If required again and permitted by the doctors, I would come to donate blood again”, he said.

Cricketer Roman Rais also addressed the presser and assured Dr Ansari of his cooperation against coronavirus. He appealed his fans and the nation to have patience, stay at home and stay safe. Parents of Jaffri also appealed to the fellow countrymen to stand together against the coronavirus threat.