Adulterated blood racket revealed in India

Three people in India, including the managing director of a hospital, have been arrested for allegedly adulterating blood with saline and selling it to patients.

Dr Vakati Chakravathy, the managing director of Venus Hospital, along with manager Chepuri Shravan and blood bank technician Bandi Prem Kumar admitted they had tampered with the blood products in order to make a profit.

The blood dilution scandal came to the attention of authorities after a complaint was made by the son of a farmer who needed a blood transfusion.

The father was admitted to Aware Gleneagles Global Hospital in Lal Bahadur Nagar, Hyderabad, following a road accident and required immediate surgery for a blood clot on the brain and a blood transfusion. The family purchased two units of blood worth Rs 3,000 ($46) each from the Venus Hospital's blood bank.

On inspecting the blood before the transfusion, doctors found it had been diluted with normal saline solution and refused to use it.

According to reports, the doctors found the units contained 40 per cent saline and 60 per cent blood.

The complaint led to a raid of the Venus Hospital's blood bank, where authorities seized adulterated blood, five packets of white blood cells, seven bottles of saline solution and other material and documents. Three people were taken into custody for questioning.

"The accused confessed to having committed the offence with an intention of getting more profits, despite knowing that their acts would endanger many lives," Venkateshwar Rao, deputy commissioner of police in LB Nagar, said during a press conference.

Further investigations have also found that the blood units being sold by the Venus Hospital blood bank contained destroyed red blood cells (haemolysed), making the blood unfit for transfusion.

"Aware Gleneagles Global Hospital doctors said that the blood was haemolysed. Samples of blood will be sent for tests and after receiving the reports, we will get to know the situation," officials from the TS Drug Control Administration (DCA) said.

It has also been revealed that the license of the Venus blood bank was previously temporarily suspended in 2016 because of violations following a review.

An investigation into the racket is ongoing.

When blood is adulterated with saline it will not have the desired effect of increasing the haemoglobin in the patient. In addition, it may be contaminated with microbes introduced during the adulteration.

In an interview with the New Indian Express, Dr Sukesh Kumar, consultant microbiologist and head of blood bank at Aware Gleneagles Global Hospital, said blood adulterated with saline can lead to life-threatening situations.

"Normally, when saline is mixed with red blood cells, there are chances of haemolysis of the RBCs. When haemolysed RBCs are transfused, a patient may develop fevers, chills, tachycardia." In worst-case scenarios, it can lead to anaphylactic reactions, renal impairment and cardiac arrhythmia.

This is not the first time adulterated blood has been found in India. Last year, a government maternity hospital was found to be selling bags of blood containing 40 per cent saline. According to reports, the ringleader allegedly made a sales pitch to patients claiming blood from private blood banks was dangerous whereas government-owned blood banks were safer.

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