She may be just 23, but that didn’t stop Smriti Thakkar from becoming, on April 25, the first plasma donor in the country to help others fight the disease she herself recovered from.
On March 16, studying for an 18-month postgraduate course at the International Fashion Academy in Paris after graduating from NIFT, Gandhinagar, Thakkar noticed she had developed mild fever and cough. There was no response from the helpline number she called, and the doctor she made an appointment with the next day cancelled at the last minute. Frantic, she took the first flight to India, which, incidentally, was also the last flight out of Paris before airlines suspended operations.
When she landed at the Ahmedabad airport, government doctors there immediately sent her to the newly-built and well-equipped Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Hospital in Ahmedabad where she was tested for Covid and found to be infected. A two-week stay later, Thakkar was discharged on April 6.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat government got permission for plasma therapy to treat Covid patients. A team of doctors sent by state health secretary Jayanti Ravi visited Thakkar’s home in Ahmedabad and told her she was eligible to donate plasma that could save someone’s life. “God and the doctors saved me. I thought I should not hesitate to give back to society.” Her father, Sunil Thakkar, a chartered accountant, and mother Jyoti asked their daughter to go ahead.
On April 18, Thakkar went to the city civil hospital to donate plasma. “It was a smooth process that lasted 99 minutes.” Thakkar was curious to know whose life she had saved with her plasma. She got her answer a few days later when the hospital told her she had saved the life of a 50-year-old COVID-19 patient. A few days later, two women, both recovered Covid patients, agreed to donate plasma after a reassuring briefing from Thakkar.