Ascension Sacred Heart has initiated the use of a treatment for COVID-19 that takes plasma from people who have recovered from the viral infection and infuses the antibody-rich plasma into very sick patients who are fighting the virus. The treatment, also called convalescent plasma, has shown significant potential for patients. Plasma is a part of blood that includes antibodies that help fight infection. Taking antibodies from people who had COVID-19 and transferring them into critically ill patients is a way of boosting the immune system so it will attack the virus.
The treatment was recently approved for emergency use in certain hospitalized COVID-19 patients by the Food and Drug Administration. Both Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola and Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast are offering the treatment as part of a national research study.
“I’m really excited about the potential of plasma therapy to save lives. This approach essentially uses other people’s ‘troops’ to fight the virus” said Dr. Peter Jennings, chief medical officer of Ascension Sacred Heart. “The use of plasma from recovered patients is not a new therapy. It was commonly used in the early 1900s to combat illnesses such as mumps, rubella and chickenpox before vaccines were developed.”
Ascension Sacred Heart is working with OneBlood to identify recovered patients and increase the number of plasma donors. To give convalescent plasma, donors must meet the standard required screening criteria for blood donation in addition to the following criteria from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
- Tested positive for COVID-19 in the past, and
- Been symptom free for at least 14 days and have a current negative test result for COVID-19 from an FDA approved test, or
- Been free of symptoms for at least 28 days before donation
“We need to work together in the community to build up a bank of plasma,” Jennings said. “If you’ve had COVID-19, consider donating plasma to help treat the most severely ill patients.”
Those who would like to donate and believe they may be eligible should go to OneBlood’s website, OneBlood.org/plasma.