Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is it really that big a deal to send a blood sample out of the country?

I need to get my blood tested for some genetic mutations (defects in my genes) that will tell me first - whether it is worth the hassle of going in for a transplant and second - if I do go in for a transplant, what line of treatment should be followed. These tests are not done in India. They are done in Europe and the US (possibly other countries too but I am not sure).

I was in touch with the Mario Negri Institute at Bergamo in Italy which has the brilliant Prof. Giuseppe Remuzzi and his associates who in an extraordinary gesture agreed to do the tests absolutely free. I was the recipient of such largesse once before too when I had my blood samples tested for a similar set of genetic defects in the UK at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (Dr. Tim Goodship and his associates).

It is really great that these labs agreed not to charge anything for performing these very special tests.

The tough part was getting the blood to them. Huh? What can be difficult about getting the blood to them? When I sent the samples to UK, I was lucky because I had an uncle who was traveling to the UK around the same time. So, I sent the samples with him and he shipped it to Newcastle upon Tyne after reaching London.

Unfortunately none of my uncles stay in Italy!

So, I had to use the official route. Which, to my horror, turned out to be very painful. I had to first have my doc open an account with a courier company. I then had to get innumerable papers printed and signed by my doctor on his letterhead. In the middle, I almost had to go to the Shamshabad airport to meet with the Additional Drug Controller for the region (I have no clue why). All this to be able to send my blood sample for tests. In hindsight, I feel it would have been easier for me to simply take a flight out to Italy myself and have the blood drawn out there itself.

Anyway, looks like its all done now. I have everything in place. I am planning to send the samples on Monday. The samples have to go at a temperature of -20 to -40 degrees centigrade, the temperature maintained by a huge quantity of dry ice. I am paying five thousand rupees extra so that I get a log of the temperature of the samples at different times during their journey from Hyderabad to Bergamo! I want to be assured that the samples have reached in perfect condition. This is, after all, going to help me make the most important decision regarding my health - and life.

3 comments:

madhava said...

Unfortunately none of my uncles stay in Italy too! or London or U S.
but fortunately i do not need any tests done.
Yes , you could have straightaway gone to Italy . though some more money would have been spent, but you could have see new places which you always wish for. Plus you would have been spared of the red tape merry (worry) go round .

Kamal D Shah said...

Yes, Madhava, the only problem is I would have to get dialysis there! It would not be worth going only for 2 days :-)

Kamal

Anonymous said...

When my son was first diagnosed with aHUS we sent his blood from the US to Dr. Remuzzi. I never had to deal with any red tape because his doctor did it all for me. But he did tell me it was quite the hassle to do. Then a few months later my whole family was tested and a couple of samples were ruined passing through customs. Nothing can ever be simple.
Heather S.