Can plasma help COVID-19 patients?

As this pandemic continues, health officials keep working to learn all they can about COVID-19, including what might help fight the virus.  One of the more promising treatments is something called convalescent plasma therapy.  We asked Mark Steele, MD, our Chief Medical Officer, about the possible treatment and how it’s being used at TMC/UH.

“We know that people who have recovered from COVID-19 develop antibodies to the virus.  Antibodies are proteins in your blood and can help your body fight off infection,” Dr. Steele explains.  The antibodies are found in plasma, which is the liquid part of blood.

Researchers also have discovered that if doctors give the plasma from a recovered COVID patient to a current COVID patient, it might help fight off the virus and lessen some symptoms.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved this as a treatment, but has provided guidance on how doctors can use plasma to continue to investigate if it is an actual treatment.  One of those ways doctors can use COVID plasma therapy is if they participate in one of the FDA regulated expanded access programs.

That is how TMC/UH has come to use the treatment, says Dr. Steele.  “We are participating in an expanded access project through the Mayo Clinic.”  Dr. Steele says plasma therapy has been used six times at TMC/UH.

This possible treatment relies on community members to provide the actual serum.  If you have recovered from COVID-19, you can donate your plasma to help.  You can donate through the American Red Cross or the Community Blood Center.

To learn more about the Mayo Clinic’s plasma therapy expanded access program, click here.

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