Man died after being transfused with lime juice instead of blood plasma, relatives say

Family say doctors at a second hospital told them 'platelet' bag was fake and actually a mix of chemicals and juice

Doctors often treat patients with plasma transfusion therapy to increase the platelet count in the bloodstream. Getty
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Authorities in India’s Uttar Pradesh have closed a hospital to investigate allegations that a patient died after he was transfused with lime juice instead of blood plasma.

Pradeep Pandey died on Wednesday, while being treated for dengue at a private hospital in Prayagraj city, previously known as Allahabad, in the country’s most populous state.

He was given a transfusion by the hospital but his family allege that, after the fourth unit of plasma, his condition started worsening and he died of blood clots.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease common across India. Infected patients usually develop mild to severe health complications including fever, rash, and muscle and joint pain. Some patients can suffer severe internal bleeding and shock.

Doctors often treat patients with plasma transfusion therapy to increase the platelet count in the bloodstream.

Pandey's family said they sourced some of the blood units on their own but, as the patient needed further plasma transfusion, they were forced to purchase five units from the hospital for 25,000 Indian rupees ($300).

The family alleged that one of the units contained sweet lime juice instead of platelets, which killed Pandey.

“We were told that he needed eight units of platelets. We managed to arrange three units from within the family. Someone told us that the hospital building owner’s son could arrange platelets for us,” the deceased’s brother-in-law, told local newspapers.

“When the fourth unit of platelets was given to my brother-in-law, his condition worsened.

The patient was taken to a second private hospital, where he died.

"The doctors there said there was some blood clotting in the body; it was mosambi [sweet lime] juice that was given to him instead of platelets,” he said.

The family said that doctors at this second hospital told them the “platelet” bag was fake and actually a mix of chemicals and juice.

Dr Nanak Saran, the chief medical officer of Prayagraj said that an investigation had been launched as they awaited a preliminary autopsy report for further action.

“The family has one unit of platelets left with them. Oversight happened at some level. The last unit of platelets that is with the family will be checked,” Dr Saran said.

About 200 people died to medical negligence in India in 2020, according to National Crime Records Bureau, but experts say those figures are only a fraction of the actual cases in the country.

The healthcare system has for decades struggled to cope with a population of more than one billion.

Updated: October 21, 2022, 2:20 PM
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