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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
What's Wrong with Our Blood

September 21, 2001
Times of India (09.19.01) - Friday, September 21, 2001

Indian Health Minister C.P. Thakur recently offered to send 100 doctors and 1,000 liters of blood to New York to help in crisis management following the terrorist attacks in the United States. Perhaps he was not aware that hospitals in the United States were not accepting blood donations from people who have been to countries like India in the past year, because of the possibility of transmitting malaria.

An Indian doctor working in a New York hospital said on condition of anonymity, "We have received several Asians, including Indians, who have been to countries where certain diseases still exist in the past one year. We had to refuse their offer." And doctors in New Delhi agree with the US stand. Almost all Indians carry the malaria germ. Even the blood bank run by the Red Cross in New Delhi does not screen for malaria. Red Cross blood bank director Dr. S.K. Choudhury said, "We only ask if the donor had had malaria in the last three months." There may be many who are harboring the germs despite not having full-blown symptoms. And these are the people who are deemed unfit for donating blood in the United States, where malaria has been eradicated. A senior doctor at Safdarjung Hospital's blood bank said his unit has been "screening for malaria for a long time." If a US resident is given one unit of blood containing malaria germs, he will develop fulminant malaria, a serious infection, the doctor said.

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