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Plasma From Coronavirus Survivors Could Potentially Treat Other Patients

Mar 31, 2020

Regional blood donation center OneBlood will begin collecting plasma from COVID-19 survivors as a possible treatment for future patients.

An experimental treatment option called “COVID-19 convalescent plasma” has been approved by the FDA to be used on an emergency basis.

The science behind the treatment is that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have developed antibodies to the virus. Transfusing the plasma components of their blood containing the antibodies may help new patients’ immune systems fight against the illness.

“Convalescent plasma has been used for more than 120 years in medicine and is very well known,” said Susan Forbes, OneBlood Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications & Public Relations. “So the idea of using plasma from survivors really dates back to the late 19th century and has been used to treat the flu, measles, polio, chickenpox, SARS and even Ebola to varying degrees of success.”

Part of the machine used to transfuse the plasma from the donor to the patient.
Credit John Garity and OneBlood

OneBlood is working with the Florida Department of Health to identify those who have recovered from COVID-19 to be potential donors. The organization is also working with the federal government on a national initiative to provide convalescent plasma where and when it is needed.

“OneBlood is one of the largest blood centers in the country,” said Forbes. “We already have the technology in place to be able to collect, test, and process plasma from donors.”

The organization’s plan is to begin collecting plasma from approved donors in a few weeks.

In order to be accepted as a plasma donor, a person will need to meet the usual screening criteria used for blood donations, as well as pass the FDA criteria.

This includes having a prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test, having a complete remission of symptoms for at least 14 days prior to donating, having a negative result for COVID-19, meeting all standard FDA blood donation requirements and having a compatible blood type to a patient.

“Once the donors are identified, we will arrange for them to come to OneBlood so that they can donate their plasma,” said Forbes. “Then we will be able to begin offering that convalescent plasma to hospitals to treat severely ill coronavirus patients.”

In order to receive this treatment, patients will also have to meet FDA criteria. This includes having a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 that is severe or immediately life-threatening.

“Hospitals are very eager to use this therapy option, and OneBlood has the ability to help during an unprecedented time,” said Forbes. “We’re moving very quickly to make sure that we can get this underway for them.”

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