Colorado Children’s Hospital last week accepted its first donation of convalescent plasma – part of the blood – from a person who had fully recovered from COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by new coronavirus.
Plasma from a patient recently recovered from COVID-19 may carry unique antibodies that have helped the patient fight infection, said Kyle Annen, a doctor in charge of the Children’s Hospital blood donation center. If the recovered patient donates their plasma, the plasma can be donated to a COVID-19 patient who is still ill, hopefully to help the sick patient fight infection and recover, she said.
“When we take these antibodies from a recovered healthy donor and transfuse them to the patient, these antibodies are essentially low-target missiles and they come in and attack the virus and they will either kill the virus or prevent the virus from replicating,” said Annen . . “It reduces the amount of virus in the patient. “
Such transfusions can provide respite for the sick patient until their own body can fight the infection, she said. The children’s hospital accepted its first plasma donation from a patient recovered from COVID-19 on March 31 and has taken donations from a dozen people recovered since then, she said.
The treatment is experimental and is only authorized in limited circumstances with patient-to-patient approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration. Plasma donations collected at Aurora Children’s Hospital have been directed to current COVID-19 patients, said Annen. At least one request for plasma came from the University of Colorado, she said, but declined to discuss improving patients after transfusions.
Although the hospital was among the first to collect plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, many other organizations, including blood donation centers and the American Red Cross, are also beginning to receive such donations.
The Red Cross collected its first plasma donation of this type from someone in New Jersey last week, a spokesperson said Monday, and is working to both increase fundraising and find the best way to distribute the plasma collected across the country in accordance with strict FDA rules.
Annen said the children’s hospital blood transfusion center is relatively small and independent, which allowed her to quickly adjust her procedures for collecting plasma from former COVID-19 patients shortly after the FDA has given the green light. Any former COVID-19 patient who has fully recovered may be eligible for plasma donation, she said, as long as the patient meets several conditions, including having previously tested positive for the new coronavirus and being symptom-free for at least 14 days.
Those interested in a donation can contact the center at 720-777-3557 or by email at convalescentpl[email protected] for more information. Potential donors can also contact their local blood donation center for more information.
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