El Paso area hospitals urge recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma to fight virus

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FILE – In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, Dr. Zhou Min, a recovered COVID-19 patient who has passed his 14-day quarantine, donates plasma in the city’s blood center in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients contains antibodies that may help reduce the viral load in patients that are fighting the disease. (Chinatopix via AP, File)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Several area hospitals including University Medical Center, El Paso Children’s Hospital, Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso and The Hospitals of Providence are encouraging El Pasoans who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating plasma as a weapon for current patients to fight the virus.

Vitalant, the nation’s largest independent blood provider, has launched a program to treat COVID-19 patients with blood plasma donated by people who have recovered from the disease. Known as “convalescent plasma,” this blood component contains antibodies that may give patients an extra boost to fight their illness.

In coordination with local hospitals, Vitalant is working to identify willing donors who qualify for this type of donation.

“We are specifically looking for volunteers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have now recovered,” said Bradford Ray, director of Blood Management at UMC. “They have the antibodies that sick patients need to, hopefully, recover.”  

Scientists have not been able to identify a proven treatment or vaccine for the virus since it is so new. There are vaccine trials underway, but it is expected to take many months before one is approved.

The FDA identified and approved convalescent plasma treatment as an “emergency investigational new drug.” It’s currently the only antibody treatment available to COVID-19 patients, and researchers believe it is a promising new tool.

“Whether individuals have already recovered or will recover from this virus in the future, we want those who are able to donate, to think about helping others fight this disease,” said Cindy Stout, CEO of EPCH.  

This form of investigational treatment may provide the body more fight against COVID-19 by using antibodies that are active against the disease. With the help of our local communities, hospital partners and extensive research experience, Vitalant is gearing up to help patients fight this novel infectious disease with the help of willing recovered COVID-19 patients.

Vitalant is seeking convalescent plasma donors to help patients.  Eligibility criteria are:

  • Prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test
  • Complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days
  • Meet all other current FDA donor eligibility requirements to donate plasma

Those who meet that criteria and want to donate plasma are encouraged to apply through the Vitalant website Vitalant.org/covidfree. For more information, please call the numbers above or 866-CV-PLSMA (866-287-5762).

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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