Probe panel to go into allegation, says GMCH superintendent
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 10: Guwahati Medical College & Hospital was embroiled in a major controversy on Tuesday after a poor couple claimed that their three-and-a-half year-old son acquired human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection from blood transfusion at the state-run hospital.
GMCH superintendent AK Bezbaruah admitted that the boy has tested HIV-positive, but claimed it was difficult to say immediately how the boy contracted the infection.
"We have formed a five-member committee headed by Dr Kunjalal Talukdar to look into all aspects of the boy's treatment and will try to find out if there was any lacu on GMCH's part," he said.
The couple said the boy was given multiple blood transfusions in the course of several surgeries last year to treat his burn injuries.
"Both I and my wife are HIV-negative. So how can our son get HIV? Last year, we got him admitted to the hospital where he was given blood transfusions for some operations. We got blood from the GMCH blood bank only," said the parents on condition of anonymity.
The boy was admitted at the hospital on April 15 last year after he suffered 40 percent burn injuries in an accident. He was under treatment at the hospital till October 3 last, during which period about a dozen surgeries were performed on him. He was re-admitted again on March 29 this year for two more surgeries.
"We came to know about the HIV infection on March 30 during routine blood tests on the boy at the GMCH. However, doctors treating him advised us not to tell this to anyone. So we kept silent. They assured us of free treatment to the boy but nothing was done," said the boy's mother.
The couple chose to speak on the issue in public only on Monday evening.
The boy has been put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy since March 30.
Bezbaruah said the boy was out of the hospital for about six months and he could have contracted the infection during that period as well.
"We are looking at all possible angles and the matter is likely to become clear after the probe committee submits its report," he said.
According to the GMCH superintendent, following the boy's first discharge, his parents were asked to bring him for check-up after fifteen days, but they turned up five months later.
However, Bezbaruah admitted that the head of the plastic surgery department Seema Rekha Devi did not inform him when the boy tested positive for HIV. "It was her duty to inform me immediately," he said.
In 2013, four people tested HIV-positive after alleged blood transfusions at a government hospital in Mangaldai, sparking protests by civil society groups and other bodies.