SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — It’s been described as “liquid gold” by some. Convalescent plasma given by COVID-19 survivors could help those in danger of losing their own battles with the virus.
The first hour-long procedure happened at UCSF Medical Center Thursday night. It’s what this kind of transfusion could do in the future that has some medical experts hopeful in the fight against COVID-19.
The transfer of Convalescent Plasma, from a person who has recovered from a disease to a patient battling it has been done before.
“We think it works based on other diseases but COVID-19 is COVID-19,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease Professor at UCSF Medical School. “We need to know if it works and if it does, there will be more enthusiasm for using it as standard therapy.”
Plasma is the liquid part of your blood containing antibodies, which help fight an infectious disease. Transfusing it to sick patients has its history of success and failure.
“It has been shown to be effective in certain epidemics and less effective in others,” said Dr. David Reich, President of New York Mount Sinai Hospital. “For example, there was some evidence that it was a benefit for the SARS epidemic in the early part of the 2000s.”
“And there may have been some benefit also for the Swine Flu, also known as H1N1. But it did not seem to be effective in treatment of Ebola disease,” said Reich.
The first COVID-19 patient to receive this kind of transfusion at UCSF has a rare condition. Dr. Chin-Hong and a team of doctors say there was no matching plasma at the Red-Cross or local blood banks, until Stanford Blood Center heard of the need, and offered its one unit of matching plasma.
“It was like a Match.com for convalescent plasma and the magic happened,” said Chin-Hong. “We are going to start off with the folks who are doing really badly sickest patients those in the ICU ventilated lot of extra medicines to keep blood pressure going,”
UCSF Medical Center has seen an estimated 60 patients, with 23 transferred into the ICU since the pandemic ignited. One person has died due to COVID-19.
If those numbers were to skyrocket, one issue could be the low supply of convalescent plasma at blood banks. Tests need to show a person has recovered from the virus and has a high level of antibodies before they can donate.
“We’re even more excited people are generous and wanting to donate themselves to help loved ones or individuals they may not even know,” said Chin-Hong.
If you think you can help and donate, you can contact the Red Cross or any health care institution that is collecting COVID-19 plasma donations.