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14 children get HIV and hepatitis virus during transfusion in Kanpur; Doctor refutes claim

Dr Sanjay Kala, Principal of GSVM recommended action against Dr Arun Arya saying he was not authorised to talk to the media, also claimed that transfusion to the infected was not done at LLRH. LUCKNOW: Over a dozen Thalassemic children undergoing blood transfusions, have tested positive for infections like Hepatitis B, C and even HIV, during their routine screening at Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital (LLRH) in Kanpur.

However, the Principal of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Medical College (GSVM) to which LLRH is affiliated, Dr Sanjay Kala refuted the claim saying no such case was reported after 2019. Dr Kala addressed a press conference on the issue on Wednesday and refuted the claims made by Dr Arun Arya, head, of the paediatrics department, LLR and nodal officer for this centre, on Tuesday. Dr Arya had claimed that 14 children were found infected with various viruses during the screening. Of the 14, seven tested positive for Hepatitis B, five for Hepatitis C and two for HIV. The children belonged to various districts including Farrukhabad, Auraiya, Etawah, Kannauj, Kanpur City and Kanpur Dehat. He had said that the minors were now faced with a greater risk in addition to the Thalassemia condition that necessitated the transfusions. Meanwhile, after the incident came to light, UP deputy CM and state health minister Brajesh Pathak ordered a high-level probe into the incident. 

At present, 180 thalassemia patients receive blood transfusions at the LLRH, which screens each of them every six months for viral diseases. As per sources, the 14 children, aged between 6 and 16, are among the 180 patients. They tested positive for various infections during a routine test at LLRH, had received blood transfusions at private and district hospitals, and in some cases locally, when they required it urgently. On the other hand, GSVM principal, Dr Sanjay Kala not only recommended action against Dr Arun Arya saying he was not authorised to talk to the media and share such information but also claimed that blood transfusion to the infected children was not done at LLRH. Dr Kala also said that every thalassaemic patient used to undergo a mandatory screening at LLRH. “During the screening, not even a single patient with  HIV or hepatitis infection has been found here since 2019. Two HIV patients—one in 2014 and the other in 2019—were found during the screening.

They had got the transfusion done from some other hospital,” said Dr Kala. He added that two patients of thalassemia had tested positive for Hepatitis B  in 2016, while two patients had tested positive for Hepatitis C  in 2014, two in 2016 and one in 2019. “So far, not a single thalassaemic patient has got infected because of the transfusion done in LLRH,” said Dr Kala. Earlier, the officials at LLRH had indicated the incident could be the outcome of the donated blood which was not tested properly for viruses. In fact, the donated blood has to be tested for a range of viruses to ensure that it is safe for transfusion.  The source of the infection itself may be hard to pinpoint. Dr Arya had said that those children who tested positive for hepatitis were referred to the gastroenterology department and the HIV patients to the referral centre in Kanpur. He added that that blood transfusion might have taken place during the window period.

According to him, there is a period of time, when the blood of an infected person does not reflect the presence of the virus in the pathological tests — this is called the “window period”. “At the time of transfusion, the doctors should have [also] vaccinated the children against Hepatitis B,” he added. However, the officials of Uttar Pradesh National Health Mission and district-level officials would trace the root of infection under the Viral Hepatitis Control Programme. The team will look for the place of infection, both for hepatitis and HIV.  Meanwhile, the politics over the incident has gained momentum with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge launching a scathing attack on the UP government. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)