Giving convalescent plasma could help patients suffering from COVID-19

Giving convalescent plasma could help patients suffering from COVID-19

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus and antibodies becomes more available across the nation, medical professionals are investigating different ways to help those suffering with COVID-19.

One of the things they are investigating is using plasma.

A medical director from the Red Cross says convalescent plasma is antibody rich and can potentially be a lifesaving treatment for coronavirus patients.

Without a vaccine or a known cure for the novel coronavirus, many are wondering and investigating how to treat the virus. The American Red Cross is working with the F.D.A. to test the usefulness of convalescent plasma in COVID-19 patients.

“This is still, it’s considered investigational," Dr. Baia Lasky, the southeastern medical director for the American Red Cross said. “Normally we are collecting plasma because of the proteins in it for people who have coagulation problems. But we’re collecting convalescent plasma now because of the antibodies against the virus.”

Lasky said convalescent plasma is antibody rich, so someone who has recovered from the virus can potentially save someone who is fighting for their life.

“When we take that unit and transfer it to someone that is still ill, those antibodies will attack the virus and clear it from their body so hopefully they have a faster recovery," she said.

Lasky said giving plasma is similar to giving blood. In this case, you do have to qualify to give this particular product because they have to test you to make sure you have those antibodies prior to donating.

“So with plasma and platelet collections we actually hook people up to a machine. The blood gets withdrawn, it goes, it spins around in a machine, we take the part we’re collecting, in this case it’s plasma and we give everything else back. So it takes a little longer," Lasky said. “But we do need to have some evidence of illness.”

But for people who have not been sick, or do not know if they have antibodies, Lasky said your help is still needed.

“Really the value for the common public, who have not been sick, is just to continue to donate regular product. We still need red cells, platelets and plasma because the rest of the world is still continuing to move on," she said.

If you know you have recovered from COVID-19 and are interested in helping your community by donating convalescent plasma, click here to see if you qualify to help.

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