His world came crashing down when doctors at a private hospital said he had only a few days to live. Facing severe breathing issues, the 44-year-old city resident was coming to terms with the body blow when he suffered another setback — he tested positive for COVID-19.

“Doctors at the private hospital where I was first admitted said my respiratory system had failed and that I have to be on ventilator till the time I want to be alive,” said the private company employee, who is known as COVID patient no. 1311 in official files.

“I had taken three steps towards the hospital building and felt as if I would collapse,” he said.

Even as he was dealing with his medical condition, he received the news that nine members of his family, including his parents, wife, two children and siblings, had also tested positive for COVID-19. “I was gripped with fear and tension,” he said.

Soon enough, he learnt about convalescent plasma therapy clinical trials at Gandhi Hospital, which is one among the many hospitals and institutes in the country that received the nod of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct such trials.

Hospital Superintendent and principal investigator of the clinical trials, M. Raja Rao and senior doctors explained to him about the plasma therapy, possible side effects and process involving ICMR among other details. After enquiring with his cousins and family doctor, he gave his approval to be part of the trials.

In fact, he was the first of the five participants of the convalescent plasma therapy, which is expected to bring down the mortality rate. In this, neutralising antibodies-filled plasma collected from recovered COVID patients is infused into other patients as part of treatment. Clinical trials are on to test its effectiveness; it is not a treatment option yet.

“I received the first dose of plasma on May 14 and experienced improvement by the next day. The second dose was administered on May 16. Dr Raja Rao, Dr Trilok Chand and post graduate student K. Hemanth constantly counselled me. Other doctors, too, checked on me,” P1311 said.

He was discharged on May 30 and is stable. Barring his mother, all others in his family recovered.

Plasma donation appeal

Having benefited from the plasma therapy, he has appealed to recovered patients to donate plasma. “I humbly request all those who recovered to donate their plasma so that more lives like mine can be saved. My brother’s daughter who has recovered is ready to donate plasma. We have informed doctors about it,” P1311 said.

Four more patients had also participated in the clinical trials. Dr Raja Rao said that all have recovered.

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