DNA: A Sankalp to fight Dengue


A sankalp to fight dengue

This is an article about the importance of Single Donor Platelet Apheresis (SDP).

Sunitha Rao R / DNA
June 12, 18:01 IST

Twenty-two-year old Ankith Jain, a final year engineering student at MS Ramaih Institute of Technology is a regular platelet donor. He donates his blood platelets to hospitals that are used for treating diseases like dengue

.“I heard about this and got interested. Through this donation, I am helping the needy with losing almost nothing, as my platelet counts will be the same after three days,” said Ankith.

While it’s common to hear of good samaritans donating blood, donating blood platelets is not something that you will usually hear of.

One of the main reasons for this is that people are unaware of the simplicity of the procedure. The entire process takes anywhere between two to two and a half hours in which the donor is plugged into an apparatus that will separate the platelet from the blood. “Many people do not come forward for give platelet donation because they think of it as a surgery. But, it is a very safe and simple procedure,” said Dr V Nandakishore, chief of blood bank in M S Ramaiah hospital.

With the number of cases of dengue on a rise in the city, there is a classic case of an imbalance between demand and supply. The demand for platelets has shot up considerably in the past few months.

Responding to the growing demand, a group of volunteers from Sankalp India Foundation — a blood bank — have got their own network of donors who voluntarily donate blood as well as platelets. The foundation has a network of 32 donors comprising students and software professionals.

“In the past year, we had 74 SDP (Single Donor Platelet Apheresis) requests and we have provided 29 donations,” said Rajath Agarwal, founder, Sankalp. The numbers clearly point at the scarcity of platelet donors. In fact, only six hospitals conduct SDP procedure.

Interestingly, platelet donation is a concept that even Sankalp heard of only in 2007. Rajath, himself a platelet donor said, “The first time when we received a call in May 2007, from someone who required platelets for his dengue affected daughter, we did not have adequate knowledge or infrastructure”

Having heard of such a request for the first time, the organisation spent considerable time browsing the web and consulting doctors. This ensured that they had a deeper understanding of this process — of giving platelets that the doctors called apheresis. “But now we have developed our own donors, who help us in case of requests,” said Rajath.

Importantly, these volunteers don’t stop at making these donations. They are taking platelet donation to the next level. As Rakesh Dhanya, a software professional and platelet donor said, the donors have to spread awareness to help the needy. “Wherever I get an opportunity, I tell my friends, colleagues and relatives about SDP and encourage them to donate platelets,” he said. In the last year, Rakesh has donated platelets four times.

According to Dr Nandakishore, when the dengue suspected patients require platelets, if they are given SDP, the clinical response will be excellent and recovery rate is also high, compared to the conventional method where platelets are taken randomly from any blood group. In conventional method, the number of platelets is much less; about 6,000 to 8,000 platelets per cubic mm of blood can be obtained as against 50,000 to 60,000 platelets in SDP.

But treatment through SDP, is expensive too, said Dr Nandakishore. One cycle of SDP, would cost Rs9,000 to Rs10,000. For the recipient, it is a costly affair as the apparatus used during SDP can be used only once.

Two barriers in platelet donation are “the process is time consuming and there is lack of awareness about the procedure,” said Rajath.

Sankalp Unit