COLUMBUS, OH — This week, medical staff at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are working to help patients battling the new coronavirus in central and northern Ohio by transfusing them with plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient.
“This ‘compassionate use’ therapy shows promise to lessen the severity or shorten the length of COVID-19," said Dr. Scott Scrape, a pathologist and director of Transfusion Medicine at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. "Our new program involves a routine blood donation process to collect the plasma that will be given to critically-ill COVID-19 patients to fight this infection.”
The transfusion is part of a nationwide effort to provide this plasma — from recovered COVID-19 patients — to people ill with life-threatening effects of the disease. People who have recovered from COVID-19 often develop antibodies that could attack the virus. Ohio State researchers are also studying the plasma to determine which antibodies perform best in battling the virus.
“While this is a new treatment for COVID-19, throughout history, medical professionals have used antibodies from the blood of recovered patients as a treatment for infections when vaccines or other medications weren’t yet available," Scrape said.
Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is working with Versiti Inc. to collect blood from fully recovered COVID-19 patients. Each donation could treat up to two people. Convalescent plasma must be collected from donors who meet regular blood donation criteria.
In addition to normal blood donation criteria, plasma donors must:
- Have had a prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test.
- Be completely symptom-free for at least 28 days before donation.
- Be negative for HLA antibodies.
“Our No. 1 objective is to identify therapeutic plasma that can be given to severely ill patients,” said Dr. Rama K. Mallampalli, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.