Guwahati: On Friday, it was a matter of life or death for Bijurani Gogoi, a health worker undergoing treatment for the dreaded COVID-19 virus in Assam's AMCH in Dibrugarh district. Convalescent plasma was needed to inject some life into this patient, doctors felt, but the biggest challenge was getting the precious material to her.
This situation kickstarted one of the most interesting mini-chapters in Assam's fight against the COVID-19 virus. To save the woman's life, a group of good Samaritans banded together to procure the plasma in what ended up being a 450 kilometers relay spread out over eight hours.
The problem arose when it was discovered that the plasma banks at both the AMCH and the Medical College at Jorhat, the JMCH, were empty.
Due to the urgent need, a call was made to Bhaskar Papukon Gogoi, a physician and social worker based in Dibrugarh, to find a way to help the nurse who was fighting for her life.
Although Gogoi was able to arrange a single unit of plasma at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), the authorities were confronted with another puzzle: how to transfer the plasma to Dibrugarh, located 480 kilometers away?
Social worker Gogoi then approached the Dibrugarh unit of the Marwari Yuva Manch (MYM), a youth volunteer organization with members from the Marwari community spread across all over India. Dr. Gogoi had previously organized a plasma donation campaign at Dibrugarh with assistance from MYM.
However, it was no easy task. Assam, due to the sharp spike in the COVID-19 cases, has closed inter-district travel (except on Mondays and Tuesdays). Furthermore, a curfew is still being imposed from 6 pm in the evening till 6 am in the morning.
To overcome this problem, the Marwari Yuva Morcha reached out to its members in every district between Guwahati and Dibrugarh. They decided to transfer the plasma in the following manner: each unit of the body would carry the plasma to the border of the adjoining district. This would go on until the plasma reached Guwahati city. They resolved that they would constantly stay in touch over the phone.
At around 10:30 pm on Friday, an ice-box with the plasma inside was picked up from the GMCH. And thus began the relay. The precious cargo changed hands at Nagaon, Bokakhat, Jorhat, Sivasagar, Moran, and then finally Dibrugarh at 6:14 am on Saturday, The entire exercise took a staggering 8 hours!
Dr Bhaskar Papukon Gogoi was there to receive it with the Dibrugarh team. They took the plasma and moments later, Bijurani Gogoi was administered the plasma, thereby injecting her with hope for another phase of life.