Mumbai: The first Covid patient to receive plasma therapy on April 25 at Lilavati Hospital succumbed to his illness on Wednesday night. According to doctors, he had been on ventilator for nine days, critical ever since his admission to the hospital on April 20. However, earlier in the day, State Health Minister Rajesh Tope had claimed that the first plasma therapy in Mumbai had been successful.
Hospital COO Dr V Ravishankar said the patient had been in poor health even before he arrived at the hospital, having permanent acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). “On April 20, the patient was admitted to the hospital and since he was critical, we kept him on a ventilator. As per protocol, we tested him for Covid-19 and he was found positive. He was then shifted to the intensive care unit of the hospital,” he said.
Last week, Mumbai had received the go-ahead from the Indian Council of Medical Research to begin trials of convalescent plasma therapy. The patient at Lilavati was the first to receive this treatment.
On April 25, he received 200ml of plasma through transfusion and was supposed to receive two more rounds (400 ml) in the next two days. “The patient was still on ventilator and had not shown any improvement after receiving the transfusion on Saturday. Keeping this in mind, we did not give him the second transfusion planned for Tuesday,” said Dr Ravishankar.
The patient had developed pneumonia and his condition deteriorated. “For nine days, he was on ventilator and on an experimental basis, plasma therapy was performed but unfortunately, he died on Wednesday night,” said Dr Ravishankar.
“My father had fever and cough, following which he tested Covid-positive and was admitted to hospital. Subsequently, samples of my family members were collected and my 26-year-old brother tested positive. He is admitted to Hiranandani Hospital,” said the son of the deceased. He further said, they had performed the last rites of his father at Ghatkopar.
Health experts say it cannot be predicted how effective this therapy will be for patients and its efficacy also depends on the condition of their lungs. “It is too early to comment, as we are at an experimental stage. In the Lilavati case, the patient's lungs were damaged so he did not respond to plasma therapy. Moreover, plasma therapy is only given when the donor and recipient blood groups are the same,” said an expert.
As per the Union health ministry, plasma therapy is at an experimental stage and there is no evidence yet to support that it can be used as treatment for Covid-19. "The therapy is still in an experimental stage and the Indian Council of Medical Research is conducting a national study on it. It can even be life-threatening if not carefully done," according to the ministry.