A woman who had contracted HIV after undergoing blood transfusion in December gave birth to a baby girl at a hospital in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai city on Thursday evening, reports said. Doctors said the baby was born underweight but is now doing fine.

Dr Shanmugasundaram, dean at Rajaji Hospital, said the hospital was taking all the precautions to prevent the transmission of the virus to the newborn. “Because of the low birth weight, she has been admitted in the newborn intensive care unit,” Shanmugasundaram added. “The baby has been given Nevirapine syrup to prevent HIV transmission.”

The syrup is used to prevent the transmission of the virus from mother to child and will be administered for six to 12 weeks. “The baby is also being given Hepatitis B vaccine hemoglobin to prevent Hepatitis B virus transmission,” the doctor said.

Doctors will conduct HIV tests on the 45th day to determine if the baby has contracted infection.

The blood transfusion

The woman was told 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 donor was HIV-positive. A preliminary inquiry showed that the blood bank staff had not screened the blood properly before sending it to the hospital where the woman was admitted.

Later, tests found that she had also contracted Hepatitis B. She is now undergoing anti-retroviral therapy treatment, which also includes drugs for Hepatitis B.

The donor – a 19-year-old – died at the Rajaji Hospital in December, days after attempting suicide by consuming rat poison. According to reports, the donor was tested as HIV-positive in 2016 when he donated blood at a camp in Virudhunagar district’s Sattur town. However, he was out of town when the counsellor called him up to inform him. The counsellor left a message for him, asking him to report to the centre. But he did not pursue the case when the donor did not turn up.

The Tamil Nadu government has fired three employees of the Sivakasi hospital and has formed an expert committee to investigate the matter.

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