New York hospital blocks potentially vital treatment for coronavirus patient

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The family of a New York schoolteacher in critical condition with COVID-19 says they have lined up therapy potentially life-saving for him – but his hospital was “standing in the way.”

Adam Cohen said he was in a desperate race to save his brother David Behrbom, a 47-year-old father of two who is in intensive care at the White Plains Hospital Center after being tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The disease was the second blow to the family. Behrbom, who teaches at PS 55 in the Bronx and lives in Ardsley, was diagnosed with leukemia on March 12. He underwent five days of chemotherapy starting March 30, which weakened his immune system, said Cohen.

He is now in a medical coma and his organs are failing, said his brother.

Behrbom’s only hope can be treatment with the plasma of a person who has recovered from the coronavirus and can help him fight it.

This so-called convalescent plasma therapy is currently undergoing clinical trials in New York and elsewhere.

Tiffany Pinckney's blood donation
New Yorkers like Tiffany Pinckney donate blood to fight the coronavirus pandemic.AP

The Montefiore health system, to which the White Plains Hospital belongs, is even conducting one of the clinical trials using the plasma of those belonging to the young Israel of New Rochelle, one of the first centers of the epidemic.

Behrbom was not eligible for the clinical trial.

But through calls on social media, Cohen managed to get donors to help his brother. He said the Behrbom doctor has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize “compassionate use” of the plasma treatment and that he should seek approval.

The plasma donation would be collected and processed by the New York Blood Center in Manhattan. But the White Plains hospital doesn’t have a contract with the blood center for plasma donations, and Cohen said his blood bank refused to write the prescription to do so.

Cohen, who also lives in Ardsley, said he was encouraged by people who wanted to help his brother.

“It is, of all things, a hospital that obstructs this,” he said.

After the Post contacted the hospital, Cohen said he heard from a hospital official on Saturday afternoon that he would authorize the procedure. But Cohen said he wasted time.

“What’s the use if it’s going to be too late?” ” He asked.

White Plains Hospital said that due to patient privacy, it could not provide specific information about the case.

“Like all hospitals in the country, we are actively exploring all treatment options for our patients diagnosed with COVID-19, including convalescent plasma therapy,” the hospital said in a statement.

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