Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK), on Tuesday, said that blood donated in Kashmir is not safe for transfusion.
With outmoded screening tests being done on donated blood, DAK president, Dr Nisar ul Hassan, said that blood banks in the Valley put patients at risk of life-threatening infections.
Blood banks screen blood samples for Hepatitis B, C and HIV viruses by conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test that does not detect early stages of infection in donated blood, the DAK President said.
He said, ìThese viruses have a ëwindow periodí of weeks to months during which the virus does not show up in the conventional test. During this period any donated blood will transmit the infection to the recipient.î
According to various studies, one in every 500 units of blood collected from a donor can easily be missed by ELISA test even if it is infected.
In order to ensure safe blood, many countries have switched from ElISA to Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) technology for screening donated blood. The main reason being, NAT detects viruses even in the window period and its introduction has eliminated the transmission of deadly viruses by blood transfusion.
Hassan said, ìWhile several states in the country have already adopted NAT to screen blood, blood banks in Kashmir continue to use traditional methods thus jeopardizing the safety of blood.î
The infected blood is one of the main reasons behind hepatitis epidemic in the Valley.
Out of 90 hemophiliac patients screened, 45 patients were positive for Hepatitis C, 4 for Hepatitis B and one was positive for HIV.
These hemophiliac patients have contracted the deadly virus because of contaminated fresh frozen plasma (FFP), a blood product which they receive on demand during bleeding.
According to a study, 38 per cent of the population of two twin villages of Takia-Magam and Sonbarie were found to be infected with Hepatitis C virus. During a screening in 2015, 84 persons were found positive for Hepatitis B virus in village Diver of Lolab area.
At present, there are around 459 cases of HIV infection registered in SKIMS hospital. ìAlthough blood transfusion is life-saving, but unsafe blood transfusion is life-threateningî.