BOSTON (WPRI) — Doctors at UMass Memorial Medical Center say a critically ill COVID-19 patient improved “dramatically” after using plasma from a donor that had recovered from the virus.
Dr. Jonathan Gerber says hours after a transfusion, a COVID-19 patient using “maximal settings on a ventilator” was given new hope. Before the transfusion, doctors were fearful the patient would not survive.
After the transfusion, Gerber says the patient no longer needed the ventilator to breathe.
“The sheer excitement was palpable when we saw this guy getting better,” Gerber said.
To date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved COVID-19 convalescent plasma to treat patients. However, it has issued guidance to provide recommendations to health care providers and investigators.
Because COVID-19 convalescent plasma has not yet been approved for use by the FDA, it is regulated as an investigational product. Doctors looking to treat patients with the plasma would use it as an emergency Investigational New Drug.
With the encouraging results from earlier this week, the hospital is now trying to collect as much plasma as possible from those who recently recovered from COVID-19, as their blood contains antibodies to fight off the virus.
“In that recovery, they’ve now developed antibodies against the virus, and those antibodies are literally capable of attaching to the virus particles and neutralizing them,” Gerber said.
Donors will have to no longer be contagious and go through a screening process to see if they’re eligible.
“We basically are scrambling to find more and more donors that need to be at least two weeks out from their infection, preferably four weeks out,” Gerber said.
If you recently recovered from the virus and are no longer contagious, you can sign up to donate your plasma by emailing UMassCOVIDplasma@umassmed.edu. For more information, you can visit Conquering Diseases.
In Rhode Island, three COVID-19 patients at Westerly Hospital are receiving plasma infusions from people who have recovered from the virus, the hospital’s parent company announced Tuesday.
People in Rhode Island who are recovering from COVID-19 and want to donate plasma should contact the Rhode Island Blood Center.