AIIMS doc, IIT engineer develop mobile app for plasma donors, patients

In the wake of rising demand of plasma treatment, a pair of brothers – a doctor at AIIMS and an engineer at IIT Delhi – have developed a mobile application that would bring the needy and the donor of plasma on the same platform.

The beta version of the app – COPAL 19 – was launched on Wednesday to honour the National Doctors Day.

Dr Abhinav Singh, a neurosurgeon at AIIMS and the brain behind the app, said that the app would work as a bridge between the patients in need of plasma and donors. “The purpose is to fill the deficit of life-saving plasma required for thousands of critically ill patients,” he said.

The only requirement for the donor is to complete the 28 days post-recovery from COVID-19 infection to become eligible for a plasma donation.

“It is a very simple app. It has two options where users can register themselves as a donor or a patient. It keeps an automated record of the donors. The patient would have to place a request on the app for plasma, and he/she would be put in touch with the donor of the same blood group by the blood bank of the hospital,” Dr Abhinav explained.

The app, currently in the testing phase, is being used only in AIIMS right now. “We are currently keeping a record of the patients receiving treatment at AIIMS and contacting the patients who have recovered from the hospital and are willing to become donors,” Dr Abhinav said.

He also said that he had kept the app an open-source product. “Any institution can copy the code and modify the application as per their requirement. However, they can use the current app as well,” he informed.

Dr Abhinav said the idea of developing the app struck him after a personal incident where he experienced the difficulty one faces to arrange plasma. “Recently, my senior went into ICU of AIIMS after contracting COVID-19 infection. His condition was critical, and he urgently needed the plasma, but no donor was available there. Then he got shifted to Max Saket, but unfortunately, we had to face a similar situation. Later, after appealing on various social media platforms, we arranged a plasma donor for him. This incident made me realise the struggle one has to go through to arrange the plasma,” he said.

The experience motivated Dr Abhinav to come up with a platform where the needy and the donor of plasma could find each other without any struggle. “We were fortunate to arrange the plasma; many patients cannot wait during an emergency. That’s why I thought to build something that can save lives of critically ill COVID patients,” he added.

While Dr Abhinav is the brain behind the app, his brother Tushar Singh, pursuing engineering at IIT, is the hand behind the app. “I don’t know the coding, so I asked for the help of my younger brother. He developed the app,” he said.

The app contains the personal details of the patients. Recently, India banned dozens of apps which were harnessing personal information of users for their gains. When asked how the app would ensure the safety of the users’ data, Tushar said that the app would only demand the minimum required credentials of a user.

“We only want names, blood group, contact number, and city of residence to build a profile. The app would demand no sensitive information of a user,” he clarified.

“Besides, we have made sure that we become an intermediary between the patient and the donor. The blood bank will facilitate contact between the patient and the donor. Their personal details would not be shared until the donation happens,” Tushar added.

The app will be available on Google Play store once its testing is completed.