Blood brothers

THE WEEK|July 12, 2020

Blood brothers
How plasma donors in Malappuram are reaching out to save the lives of strangers
CITHARA PAUL

IT WAS RAINING heavily when Vineeth Ravi got the call from Dr Shinaz Babu, the nodal officer for Covid-19 at Government Medical College, Malappuram. “I picked up the phone thinking it was a casual call,” said Ravi. “He calls me up regularly to check if I am OK, though it has been almost a month since I had become Covid-19 negative.”

But this was more than a regular call. Babu had a request. “Doctor told me that a Covid-19 positive patient was very critical, and asked me whether I was ready to give blood for administering plasma treatment,” said Ravi, 23. “I immediately said yes. How could I say no to a doctor whose medical team risked their lives to save mine?”

Ravi, who holds a diploma in mechanical engineering, had contracted the virus during his stay in Chennai. “The situation in Chennai was so bad that I rushed back to Kerala immediately after the lockdown was lifted,” he said. “I tested positive and was admitted to the medical college. I am alive now because of the care given to me by Dr Shinaz and his team.”

When the request came, Ravi did not think twice, but Babu insisted that he get the permission of his parents before going ahead with it. Ravi asked his mother and she agreed. “She told me that it was my responsibility to repay those who saved my life,” he said. “She also told me that there is nothing greater than saving another life.”

Though Ravi’s home is 60km from the hospital, he reached the hospital within two hours of the call. “I told Vineeth that I would send a vehicle for him. But he said he would come on his motorbike,” said Babu. “It was raining heavily. I got worried seeing him as it had been only 22 days since he had been discharged. But Vineeth showed no signs of weakness and gave the required amount of blood.”

That blood has now saved a life.

It was M.K. Sainuddeen Bhaqavi, who works as an ustad in a mosque in Oman, who received Ravi’s blood. Now, Bhaqavi has been discharged, becoming the first Covid-19 patient in the state to recover after receiving plasma treatment.

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July 12, 2020