FirstHealth of Carolinas Joins Mayo Clinic in Convalescent Plasma Program to Treat COVID-19

FirstHealth of the Carolinas (https://www.firsthealth.org/) has joined the convalescent plasma expanded access program (EAP) at the Mayo Clinic to provide plasma transfusion treatment for hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19. Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to donate convalescent plasma through OneBlood (https://www.oneblood.org/). The plasma is then processed and tested for antibodies that help fight against the virus. “A very old treatment is taking part of the blood of someone who recovered from a disease, someone who has the necessary antibodies to fight it, and giving it to a person with the disease,” said Gretchen Shaughnessy Arnoczy, MD, an infectious diseases physician with FirstHealth of the Carolinas. “Convalescent plasma is a promising treatment because it’s worked for other diseases.” To be eligible for donation, individuals must have recovered from coronavirus, become completely free of symptoms for 14 days, and test negative for the virus. Once all criteria are met, recovered patients can register to donate at OneBlood.org. FirstHealth has performed its first successful plasma transfusion, and Dr. Arnoczy said more will occur as long as availability allows. The Mayo Clinic program includes protocols and regulatory assistance, but does not supply the plasma. Sites are encouraged to establish local channels and to work with blood banks to identify and recruit donors. “We want to have a more robust pipeline of plasma available to us,” Dr. Arnoczy said. “We really want to encourage people who have recovered from COVID to go on the OneBlood website and register. That will help us have more supply, so we can use it in more patients.” After donation, plasma, the liquid portion of the blood, is separated and tested. On average, processing takes about 24 hours.
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