I want to tell you this as a human being, if you are someone who was fortunate enough to have recovered from COVID-19, please do not hesitate to donate your plasma.
Once every century or so, humanity has been confronted by a crisis that has left an indelible impression and changed the way of life for the next one. Two centuries ago, the rampaging colonialism submerged the majority of the world under its trampling ambitions. Till today, most of those parts are still reeling from that and still ‘developing.’ A century later, the two world wars brought with them untold suffering and misery, and out of that were born the ideas and desire of a better world with modern day democracy, equality and freedom, along with institutions such as the UN, WHO etc.
COVID-19 however has in the span of six months thrown all that out of the window. It is the next such gargantuan humanitarian crisis that has completely changed our world. Daily lives, as we knew, will not be the same again for a very long time, or perhaps never. Gone are the days of the bear hugs, the social embraces, the warmth of large gatherings. COVID-19 has ruthlessly, mercilessly made all of that nearly impossible for the foreseeable future. With 10 million cases worldwide and half a million deaths and rapidly counting, make no mistake that a miracle solution is not in near sight that could change things back quickly. And if and when it does come, the clamour and the scramble for it might perhaps end up exposing some of the darkest sights due to the desperation of each individual’s survival.
Therefore, while we all mentally and emotionally grapple with this question daily of what to do, perhaps now would be a good time to go back to the first page our textbooks, with Gandhiji’s famous Talisman. One of his last writings that he left behind for all of us, the crux of it is to basically ask each one of us to look at our fellow human beings a little more favourable and a little less selfishly. I simply ask you to do the same.
For in this pandemic, one of the solutions that has worked wonders in many, many cases, and a solution that money essentially cannot buy, or create, is plasma therapy. I could of course as a doctor tell you that it’s completely safe to donate plasma for most people (in this case people who have initially contracted COVID-19 and have subsequently recovered), that it would barely take an hour, that we can donate approximately a 1,000 units a month. I could and of course should also tell you, that even with the limited data, we can quite safely assume for there to be at least short term immunity against secondary COVID-19 infections. Therefore it is essentially risk free. But I am sure you have all ‘googled’ that already.
So for a change, I want to tell you this as a human being. If you are someone who has suffered from COVID-19 and are fortunate enough to have recovered from it, please do not hesitate to donate your plasma to COVID-19 patients whose survival hinges on your generosity. Perhaps in today’s day and times if someone with more reach said this, it might help convince more people. Perhaps the big names with the large social media followings who have suffered from COVID-19 donating their plasma to someone in need might help allay some of the apprehensions around it. Maybe the logistical issues involved from tracing to getting a donor to an approved Hospital and back could be helped in by CSR initiatives. All these are the tactical issues that can be sorted in no time if we all got together.
It is the satisfaction of saving a life that makes one a Doctor, not the stethoscope or a scalpel that we wield. Those are mere tools that help us achieve that. So on this Doctors Day, please join me in pledging that you too will not hesitate or refuse to donate your plasma if you ever happen to be in that situation. As Netaji might have liked to say it had he been around, ‘tum mujhe plasma (khoon) do, main usse kissi ko zindagi doonga’. Funnily enough, even a century later, it is the words of our forefathers that still ring true.
Saurabh Sachar is a doctor and a senior resident in Radiodiagnosis in the largest Central Government Hospital in India, Safdarjung Hospital & VMMC, New Delhi.