New plasma treatment could help Miami Valley COVID-19 patients, experts say

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Community Blood Center’s new COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma program will allow Miami Valley residents who have recovered from the virus to contribute to patient treatment.

The initiative launches on April 10 and is open to those who have documentation that they tested positive for COVID-19, and have been symptom-free for at least 14 days. Potential candidates must be at least 18 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in generally good health and feeling well.

“The plasma from someone who has recently been infected by COVID-19 has antibodies that may be able to fight the infection,” said Dr. James Alexander, Community Blood Center’s medical director. “The No. 1 criteria is that someone has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been clear of all symptoms for two weeks. Their physician must determine they meet the criteria before they schedule an appointment to donate.”

The FDA recently approved the use of convalescent plasma by physicians for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or high-risk individuals. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of this plasma treatment, but some evidence suggests it can help recipients develop their own antibodies to fight off the sickness.

“We’re looking at some really exciting prospects here,” said Mark Pompilio, marketing and public relations manager for the Community Blood Center. “One of these donations already we know has been able to be divided into three units to help multiple people.”

Each donor can help up to four patients, according to Dr. Roberto Colón, associate chief medical officer for Miami Valley Hospital.

The Mayo Clinic says Premier Health is the first health system in the nation to enroll a COVID-19 positive patient in this treatment using their protocols.

“People of all blood types are needed for this effort,” said Dr. Colón, who also serves as system vice president of quality and safety for Premier Health. “We encourage providers in the ICU, hospitalists, and primary care providers with patients recovering from COVID-19 to follow up with their patients and make them aware of this opportunity. By donating convalescent plasma, a donor will be potentially able to save the lives of several COVID-19 patients. Because there is not an established effective treatment, this therapy will be of particular benefit to those who have more severe disease manifestations.”

Dr. Colón told 2 NEWS donors must have tested positive for the virus. They must then show no symptoms for at least 14 days and test negative, or they must go 28 days without showing symptoms.

“This is potentially a huge breakthrough,” Dr. Colón said. “We don’t have any of the outcomes data yet because it’s still very early.”

A candidate’s blood type also plays a role in the donation process, Dr. Colón said.

“It’s reverse from blood,” he explained. “So the universal donors are those AB types because they do not have the antibodies to the cells.”

The Community Blood Center is prepared to collect donations over the long term.

“We’re looking at this to become just a regular program for us,” Pompilio said. “We’ve got a long way to go with battling this pandemic.”

Pre-screening services are being offered by Premier Health and CompuNet, and Premier Health’s foundations will cover the cost in order to help build a large registry of potential donors.

If you’re interested in donating or would like to learn more, click here.

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