NYACK, NY — Doctors at Montefiore Nyack Hospital who are part of a global new coronavirus research effort gave the first dose of convalescent plasma therapy via transfusion to a COVID-19 patient in the ICU on Tuesday. If you have recovered from a confirmed case, consider registering as a plasma donor.
Rockland County is one of the hardest-hit areas in New York, the country's hardest-hit state.
The total number of confirmed cases in Rockland as of Thursday was 8,752, and of those, 278 people were newly diagnosed. The death toll reached 250.
Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood which helps with clotting and supporting immunity.
The team at Montefiore Nyack Hospital is working on the plasma program as a part of an FDA-approved research study organized by the Mayo Clinic involving dozens of hospitals across the nation. It is led by nephrologist Michal Tracz, MD, with Highland Medical, P.C. Rockland Renal Associates and pathologist Vandana Hoon, MD, director of the Department of Pathology.
“One COVID convalescent plasma donation can save a life of up to three people and until we develop effective drugs or vaccines, this may be our best hope of fighting COVID-19 in our community,” Dr. Tracz said.
The patient was infused with the plasma from a person who has recovered from the infection. Dr. Tracz said the hope is that the antibodies in the plasma will boost the infected patient’s immune system to help fight the virus. More patients are expected to receive treatment soon.
The use of convalescent plasma has been used to treat illness as far back as the Spanish flu in 1918. It has also been used on patients with illnesses, including polio, measles, and SARS.
Early data suggests it could be effective in treating patients with severe cases of COVID-19, Dr. Tracz said.
The success of the program hinges on available supply. If you have recovered from COVID-19, consider donating your plasma.
The New York Blood Center coordinates the process, and the criteria for donation are (1) a documented positive test for COVID-19 and (2) a time frame of two weeks from the last symptom. A second test may sometimes be needed, but not usually.
Nyack hospital officials encourage anyone interested to register as a plasma donor with the New York Blood Center. You must have documentation of a positive COVID-19 result. You can upload it with the form, or provide it when being scheduled.