The Madras High Court on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of a pregnant woman contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus after a blood transfusion at a government hospital. The court asked the Tamil Nadu government to file an action taken and status report by January 3, PTI reported.

The court took cognisance of the matter when advocates George Williams and Krishnamoorthy mentioned it before the vacation bench of judges S Vaidyanathan and PT Asha. Williams also said he wanted to bring the matter to the court’s notice, and would not file any petition.

The woman, who is eight months pregnant, had been told earlier this month that she needed a transfusion because she was anaemic. She was given blood from the Sivakasi government hospital blood bank, but it later emerged that the 19-year-old donor was HIV-positive. When the woman’s blood was tested, it was found that she had gotten infected.

A preliminary inquiry showed that staff at the blood bank had not screened the blood properly before sending it to the hospital where the woman was admitted.

The woman and her husband have filed a police complaint to seek action against the doctors, nurses and employees of the blood bank. The state government has said it will review the stocks in all blood banks in Tamil Nadu to ensure they are free of the virus.

The Tamil Nadu Health Department has fired three staff members of the hospital, The News Minute reported on Thursday. The government has formed an expert committee to investigate the matter.

“We have made arrangements for the woman to receive exclusive treatment in Madurai Government Rajaji Hospital,” Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said. “We have assigned three doctors to specially oversee the assessment and treatment of the victim. If the family is not satisfied with the treatment in Madurai, the government is ready to arrange treatment in a private hospital also.”

The blood donor attempted suicide by consuming rat poison on Thursday, PTI reported. He had been asked by a counsellor to report to the hospital where he donated blood.

NHRC sends notice

The National Human Rights Commission issued notice to the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. It also sought to know the action taken against the accused and relief provided to the victims.

The commission observed that the incident has raised concern over matters like safe handling of blood samples, detection of diseases and blood transfusion. It asked the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s secretary to call for a status report on the precautions taken from all states and Union Territories and submit a report to the NHRC within six weeks.