NHRC notice to Tamil Nadu Government and Union Health Ministry to submit reports over reported transfusion of HIV infected blood to a pregnant woman (27.12.2018)

New Delhi, 27th December, 2018

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a teenage donor, whose blood infected a pregnant woman with HIV, attempted suicide at his home in southern Tamil Nadu on Wednesday as the families struggled to deal with the tragedy and more details emerged of criminal negligence on the part of public health care personnel.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu calling for a detailed report in the matter including action taken against the guilty and relief/ counselling provided to the victims, within four weeks.

It has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, amount to violation of human rights of the victims of medical negligence. As reported, had proper action been taken by the authorities when the donor was first recognized as a case of HIV+, the mishap could be avoided. Now both, the donor and the recipient woman are passing through a trauma.

The Commission has further observed that this reported painful incident has raised a serious issue regarding safe handling of blood samples, detection of diseases like HIV and transfusion of blood as per set standards by taking all precautions. A nationwide move is required to be taken to examination the procedures so that Right to Life of the innocent people is not violated.

Accordingly, it has asked the Secretary, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, to call for a status report on the issue, from all the States/UTs and submit a report to the Commission within six weeks along with their comments thereon.

According to the media reports, carried today on the 27th December,2018, a teenager donated blood at a camp in Sattur area of Virudhunagar district in Tamil Nadu in the year 2016. His blood was found infected with the HIV. The counselors called him up and told him to report to the Centre. As mentioned, the counselors normally do not break the news over telephone but it is also a fact that the counselor did not try to pursue the case when the donor did not turn up. The same donor donated blood, again on 30.11.2018, at the Sattur Government Hospital, and it was labeled safe by the lab technicians. The same blood was given to a woman, who had come to the hospital for anti-natal checks and was advised blood transfusion by the doctors.

As mentioned in the news report, four days later, the donor was tested positive for HIV at a private hospital in Madurai and he was referred to Sattur Government Hospital and the victim woman was also identified. The woman has lodged a complaint against unknown doctors and nurses for the transfusion, seeking stringent action against them. Three employees responsible for the tragic mix-up have been reportedly sacked by the Madurai Government Hospital.