OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - A new clinical trial approved for the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) uses recovered COVID-19 patients’ blood to help those still battling the virus.
With no proven treatment for COVID-19, officials with EAMC said it was time to find another way to help their patients recover.
“We felt we had to do something,” said Dr. Ricardo Maldonado, an infectious disease specialist at EAMC.
The hospital announced it’s partnering with Lifesouth Community Blood Centers for a new national clinical trial.
Doctors said they’ll be using plasma from recovered patients, which contains special antibodies, and giving it to those in the hospital currently fighting the virus.
“The idea is those patients who have recovered from COVID, should have anti-COVID antibodies within that plasma,” said Dr. Brandon Johnson, the Medical Director of Oncology at EAMC.
According to these doctors, there is some uncertainty with this treatment, but preliminary studies show these antibodies can be helpful, even lessening the severity of the case
“This therapy has been used on previous outbreaks like Ebola, or SARS, or even H1N1, with certain efficacy,” Maldonado said. “We thought we had a certain opportunity to help our patients, especially those who are very sick.”
Doctors said there’s very little downside to the treatment.
“Plasma transfusions are done daily,” Johnson said. “They’re very, very safe. They’re easy to tolerate. The potential to benefit is there with very little, to no, potential for harm.”
Now, officials with EAMC are asking for the public’s help. They’re asking anyone who’s tested positive for the virus and has completely recovered to please donate plasma to Lifesouth.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Johnson said. “We’re in this together. I know that’s a common saying. But we truly are in this together. And only by donating and helping us use these things for our sick patients, can we learn what works and what doesn’t work.”
Recovered COVID-19 patients who are interested must meet the following criteria:
- A laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
- Complete recovery, i.e. no symptoms without fever- or symptom-reducing medication for at least 14 days before the donation.
- If it has been fewer than 28 days since completion of symptoms, donors must have a documented negative result by one or more nasal swab specimens or a molecular diagnostic blood test. If neither of these tests was performed, a positive antibody test confirming the patient has COVID-19 antibodies is acceptable.