Patients with severe cases of COVID-19 may find help in an unlikely source — the blood plasma of patients who’ve recovered from the disease.
It’s called convalescent plasma, and the idea is that antibodies in the donated plasma will help fight the disease in patients who are suffering through it, AdventHealth officials said in a news release in which they announced a partnership with OneBlood, a not-for-profit blood center that already has the technology in place to be able to collect, test and process plasma from donors.
AdventHealth is working with OneBlood to solicit donations from recovered patients across the region, according to the release. OneBlood will collect the plasma, which can be collected either from whole-blood or plasma-only donors.
“This is an extremely exciting development that shows promise in helping our sickest patients,” Dr. Juliana Gaitan, who is leading the project, said in the release. “We’re among the first hospitals in the country to begin offering this therapy.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is facilitating access to the COVID-19 convalescent plasma for use in patients with serious or immediately life-threatening infections.
People who recover from coronavirus infection have developed antibodies to the virus that remain in the plasma portion of their blood, OneBlood said in a separate news release. Transfusing the plasma that contains the antibodies into a person still fighting the virus can provide a boost to the patient’s immune system and potentially help the person recover.
“OneBlood is actively identifying qualified donors and arranging for their donations. In some cases, donations have been issued to hospitals within 24 hours of a person donating,” said Susan Forbes, senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations at OneBlood.
Recovered patients who are at least 15 days out from experiencing symptoms are eligible to donate.
“We are really depending on the community for support,” said Gaitan of AdventHealth. “As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, we expect high demand for this potentially lifesaving treatment.”
In addition to local efforts, OneBlood — which serves Florida, North Carolina and other parts of the southeastern United States — is also cooperating with the federal government and anticipates participating in a national-level initiative to be able to provide convalescent plasma when and where it is needed.
OneBlood has also launched a social-media initiative to bring heightened awareness to people who have recovered from the virus, letting them know that they are needed and could hold the potential key to helping critically ill coronavirus patients recover, according to its news release.
“Hospitals are eager to use this therapeutic treatment. OneBlood has the ability to help during an unprecedented time, and our team is working around the clock to meet the growing demand for COVID-19 convalescent plasma,” said Forbes.
Go to oneblood.org to learn more about plasma donations, how to host a blood drive or make an appointment to donate, and much more.