Dr Dildar Hossain Badal, who works as a medical officer at the Nephrology Department of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, recently recovered from Covid-19.
By donating his plasma to the blood transfusion department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital(DMCH) on Saturday, he helped jump-start plasma therapy research for Covid-19 patients in Bangladesh.
Plasma is the largest component of the human blood, making up more than half (about 55%) of its overall content. When separated from the rest of the blood, plasma is a light yellow liquid that carries water, salts, enzymes and antibodies.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Dr Dildar said, "I believe that Almighty Allah has saved my life. I also believe that as a human being, it will be great boon for me to save at least two Covid-19 patients by donating my plasma."
Dr Rawnak Jamil, at Mitford Hospital, who also recently recovered from Covid-19, donated his plasma along with Dr Dildar to aid research on plasma therapy. The research will begin on coronavirus patients next week.
Dr Dildar tested positive for the novel coronavirus on April 25. He immediately went under home quarantine at his residence in Mohammadpur area of Dhaka, and started undergoing treatment. He made a full recovery on May 11 while under quarantine.
Through a Facebook group, the doctor stumbled on a call for plasma donation made by DMCH haematology department Chief Professor Dr MA Khan.
Dr Khan also serves as chief of an experts committee on plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients.
Recounting his experience as a donor, Dr Dildar said, "Plasma donation is mostly a painless procedure. I think that donating plasma is much easier and less risky than giving blood. When someone donates blood, they donate the plasma too. But when someone donates plasma only, they get the blood back. The body will replenish the lost plasma within an hour.
"A glass of water is enough to replenish the loss of liquid in the body. I felt no discomfort or weakness after donating plasma. Later,I participated at an event at the hospital and performed other duties too."
Dr Dildar pointed out that many critical patients can be saved if those who have fully recovered from Covid-19 donate plasma. The doctor on Sunday fully resumed his duties as a physician after recovering from the novel coronavirus and donating plasma.
DMCH begins plasma therapy research
The DMCH launched the plasma therapy process at an experimental level on Saturday.
From next week, a clinical trial will be conducted on 45 patients, said Dr Khan, who serves as a member of the government's National Technical Advisory Committee on the coronavirus.
He added, "Bangladesh, like many other countries, has decided to carry out research on plasma therapy to treat coronavirus patients. The research was formally launched on Saturday and plasma has been collected from two doctors who have fully recovered from Covid-19.
"The hospital will collect plasma donations every day from now on. The clinical trial will be completed around June this year."
According to doctors, plasma donated by those who have fully recovered from Covid-19 will contain antibodies. If those antibodies are introduced into the bodies of critical Covid-19 patients, their condition could improve.
It is to be noted that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved plasma therapy treatment for coronavirus patients.
Here in Bangladesh, the Directorate General of Health Services has also given its nod for the therapy. However, the final approval will come from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council.
Dr MA Khan said, "Giving plasma to Covid-19 patients before they enter the intensive care unit yields good results. Men in the age range of 18 to 60 years can donate plasma. Among women, those who are not married or are not mothers can donate plasma."
Naogaon lawmaker interested in donating plasma
Meanwhile, Naogaon-2 lawmaker Shahiduzzaman Sarkar, who recently recovered from Covid-19,has expressed his interest in donating plasma, said Md Ashraful Hoque, assistant professor at the blood transfusion department of Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery.
On April 27, Dr Ashraful Hoque took the initiative to create a plasma bank at the facility. So far, four people have donated plasma there.
"Lawmaker Shahiduzzaman Sarkar called the facility on Saturday and expressed his interest in donating plasma. We will collect plasma from him soon," said Dr Ashraful.
He added, "Any government or non-government hospital can use the plasma from our plasma bank. It is being stored in a controlled temperature, and can be used even after one year.
"People who have fully recovered from the coronavirus are gradually getting interested in donating plasma."