On September 1, as a Delhi-Srinagar flight touched down at the Srinagar International Airport, there was ray of hope for the family of a 65-year old woman who was battling Covid-19 at a hospital here. The cargo section of the flight was carrying a bag of blood plasma, which had been brought all the way from Bengaluru.
The plasma reached Srinagar within just eight hours from Bengaluru but the hope it offered to the patient's family was temporary. "With the effort of the friends and family members, the B+ plasma was arranged from Bengaluru for the patient and its therapy was given to her on the same day it reached here. Yet she died just a few hours of the therapy," said Sheikh Saqib, a volunteer with Plasma Donor Kashmir, a group actively working to arrange plasma for Covid-19 patients in the Valley.
Saqib who was also instrumental in coordinating the airlifting of the plasma said "the option to airlift the plasma from Bengaluru was decided after several other options, including plasma donations within the Valley for this particular patient had proved to be time consuming".
"There were two units of B+ and A+ plasma arranged from Bengaluru with help of a known doctor for two different patients in the Valley. But unfortunately the critically ill woman lost her battle with the infection, while another patient for whom plasma was also airlifted is still undergoing treatment at a hospital," Saqib said.
He said it was after the SOS call from the patient's family that the plasma was received from a recovered patient in Bengaluru, who had voluntarily donated it on hearing of the elderly woman's worsening condition.
Meanwhile, the airliner in which the plasma was airlifted said in a statement "it was for the first time between any of the cities across the country that creation of an air corridor to airlift plasma has taken place."
It may be mentioned that Convalescent plasma is collected from voluntary donors who have completely recovered from Covid-19, at least 40 days after they test negative for the virus. The donor in this case had adequate amounts of protective IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.