The Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) in collaboration with the State Bank of India’s CSR Arm SBI Foundation and SBI DFH will annually help 50,000 cancer patients to receive blood transfusions. Also, 35,000 blood samples will be tested through NAT (Nucleic-Acid Amplification Test) annually through this initiative.
By introducing NAT, or Nucleic-Acid Amplification Test, taking blood samples would become a safe practice, as infections like HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, etc., would be detected at an early stage.
The Chairman of SBI, Dinesh Khara, while welcoming this initiative by the two partners said, “With the introduction of NAT (Nucleic-Acid Amplification Test) we hope that a paradigm shift in cancer treatment has ushered in."
The Director of Tata Memorial Hospital, Dr C.S. Pramesh said, "More than 60% of our patients are treated completely free or at highly subsidised costs. We are grateful to the SBI Foundation for supporting us with NAT testing that will enable us to ensure that blood transfused to our patients is absolutely safe and free of any infection."
While explaining the importance of NAT, The Head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, Dr S.B. Rajadhyaksha, said, “NAT testing of blood, though expensive, is considered the gold standard for screening blood and is a prudent investment for saving lives. NAT tested blood will be a boon especially for cancer patients who need multiple transfusions during treatment.”
The current testing methodology, the ELISA technique, has a greater residual risk of transmission of infections due to a longer window period. The Nucleic-Acid Amplification Testing (NAT) can reduce this risk of TTI’s, if performed in addition to ELISA, especially in cancer patients as they are at a higher risk due to multiple transfusions. At present less than 5% of blood centres in India perform NAT testing on blood, added the TMC press release.