HIV+ blood transfusion: Youth gets damages after 20 years
Tamil Nadu

HIV+ blood transfusion: Youth gets damages after 20 years

S Murari

A city civil court in Chennai has been awarded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to a youth who was transfused with HIV positive blood in the Government children’s hospital when he was a ten months baby when he was hospitalised with diarrhoea way back in 1999.

The youth has since completed a diploma is now working in a private firm. Additional City Civil Court judge V Thenmozhi on Saturday directed the Institute of Child Health and Hospital in Egmore to pay damages of Rs 25 lakh to the youth as well as his mother Sorna besides the Rs 50,000 it had already paid towards medical expenses as directed by the Madras High Court .

Besides, the judge also ordered the hospital to pay Rs 1.50 lakh incurred by the youth’s mother on legal expenses since she filed the case 20 years ago. The court also asked the Tamil Nadu Government to give a job to the youth.

The judge held the hospital guilty of medical negligence for having failed to properly screen the blood when the baby was operated upon by doctors on finding that his intestines were intertwined. He was discharged in March1999. Soon he developed complications and was found to have been infected with HIV+ blood when he was tested at the Tambaram Sanatorium Hospital

The Government children’s hospital maintained that the blood bag given to the patient was screened for HIV and hepatitis B as per the Supreme Court directions. It said it had no records pertaining to the incident which happened 20 years ago as the Drugs and Cosmetics Act stipulates that records should be destroyed after five years.

Rejecting this argument, the judge said the hospital had produced no evidence to show it had destroyed old records. The question is how this youth has lived for so long after getting infected with HIV as a baby.

Doctors say that thanks to advances in medicines, the spread of the infection which kills the immunity system in the body can be contained through anti-retroviral drugs. This with healthy lifestyle can make a person live with HIV for even up to 30 to 40 years, says Dr Ravindranath, general secretary of Doctors Society for Social Equality.