MISHAWAKA, Indiana - Franciscan Health is participating in a national study spearheaded by the Mayo Clinic to investigate the effectiveness of convalescent plasma in treating patients infected with COVID-19. Convalescent plasma is blood plasma collected from people who have already recovered from the virus.
"Convalescent plasma has been used since the 1800s to help people infected with different viruses and bacteria. The idea behind convalescent plasma is that if we take the antibodies from a patient who has recovered from an infection, and give them to a patient who is sick from that same infection, those antibodies may help that sick patient fight off the disease faster," said Dr. Erica Kaufman West, infectious disease specialist for Franciscan Health.
Convalescent plasma is regulated by the FDA as an investigational product. By participating in the Mayo Clinic study, Franciscan Health is helping to find its effectiveness in treating severely ill patients.
To further the study, plasma donations are needed from those who have recovered from the virus. Franciscan Health is asking anyone who has had COVID-19 to visit FranciscanHealth.org/CovidPlasma to learn more about the donation process.
"Donating plasma is donating blood, except that you'll get your platelets and red blood cells back. Just the plasma will be taken. The same requirements for blood donation apply and you must be free of COVID-19 symptoms for at least 14 days to be eligible," Dr. Kaufman West said.
Plasma is matched to the donor just like blood (called "ABO compatibility") so the risk of a transfusion reaction is low. Plasma is also screened for various infections like HIV, Hepatitis B & C and others. The risk of getting an infection is less than one in 1 million.
For those who have not been infected by COVID-19, your blood is also urgently needed. Due to the pandemic, blood drives at various workplaces and hospitals have been canceled, but many blood banks have their own operation centers where you can donate. You can make an appointment at Versiti (Franciscan Health's blood supplier) by calling (800) 632-4722 or emailing email@example.com.
Individuals can make a whole blood donation every 56 days and a plasma donation every 28 days.