Patients with severe cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, may find help in an unlikely source–the blood plasma of patients who’ve recovered from the disease. It’s called convalescent plasma.
People who recover from coronavirus infection have developed antibodies to the virus that remain in the plasma portion of their blood. 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 them recover.
“This is an extremely exciting development that shows promise in helping our sickest patients,” said Dr. Juliana Gaitan, the Orlando-based pathologist leading the project. “We’re among the first hospitals in the country to begin offering this therapy.” Gaitan is affiliated with AdventHealth Orlando.
Take Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. He has recovered from the coronavirus and is the first person in Florida to become a Covid-19 convalescent plasma donor. His donation will be used to help a critically ill coronavirus patient in Florida.
The Mayor donated his plasma with OneBlood, one of the largest not-for-profit blood centers in the country serving Florida, North Carolina and other parts of the southeastern United States. Just days earlier OneBlood had announced it would begin collecting plasma from people who recovered from the coronavirus and who meet the FDA qualifications to be a donor.
In an ironic twist of fate, at the same time OneBlood began coordinating the Mayor’s donation, a patient with a severe case of coronavirus also contacted the Mayor asking if he would consider donating his plasma in the hopes of aiding his recovery. When the Mayor learned that he qualified to be a donor, he immediately began coordinating with OneBlood to arrange for his donation.
“I have a moral responsibility to do this. My plasma donation has the potential to help a coronavirus patient recover,” Suarez said. “I want this to be a call to action for other people who have recovered from the coronavirus to follow in my footsteps and find out if they are eligible to be a plasma donor so together we can help more people who are suffering with coronavirus.”
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is facilitating access to the Covid-19 convalescent plasma for use in patients with serious or immediately life-threatening infections. AdventHealth is working with OneBlood to solicit donations from recovered patients across the region. OneBlood will collect the plasma, which can be collected either from whole-blood or plasma-only donors.
“This is a monumental moment in the fight against coronavirus. The OneBlood team has worked around-the-clock in order to implement the new FDA protocols to begin collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma. The Mayor is not only providing hope to the patient in need of his plasma, he is providing hope to the entire nation in the fight against this terrible virus,” said Bud Scholl, President and Chief Executive Officer of OneBlood.
“We are really depending on the community for support,” said Dr. Gaitan. “As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, we expect high demand for this potentially lifesaving treatment.”
Recovered patients who are at least 15 days out from experiencing symptoms are eligible to donate. Donors must meet all the required screening criteria for blood donation and the additional FDA criteria, as follows:
Prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by an FDA approved laboratory test
Complete resolution of symptoms at least 14 days prior to donation and a documented negative COVID-19 FDA approved test OR
Complete resolution of symptoms at least 28 days prior to donation
If you meet the requirements above and are interested in donating potentially life saving plasma, go on to this pre-donation form.