Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) announced it is participating in Mayo Clinic’s Expanded Access Protocol for Convalescent Plasma Program for treatment of patients with COVID-19. Researchers believe that convalescent plasma, which refers to blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from COVID-19, may help patients with advanced illness from COVID-19 improve faster if they receive that plasma. The antibodies in the plasma may have the ability to help patients fight the virus and recover more quickly.
MLH has begun studying the effects of using plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat current COVID-19 patients in an effort to find an effective treatment, which could be critical in helping patients with underlying conditions.
“We’ve seen this virus in the Mid-South and across the country especially impact people who have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, asthma, and kidney disease among others,” said Arthur Townsend, M.D., vice president and chief clinical transformational officer. “An effective treatment will also help us battle this virus if another wave hits our country.”
On April 21, a fully recovered COVID-19 patient was the first to donate convalescent plasma to the MLH and Mayo Clinic program. Dr. Daniel Wakefield, a 30-year-old radiation oncology resident in Memphis, says donating was the right thing to do after he recovered from the virus. Wakefield was motivated to get tested for COVID-19 when he developed a cough after working at a COVID-19 testing site in Memphis. After quarantining at home, Wakefield is now fully recovered and hopes his story will encourage other people to step forward to donate convalescent plasma.
MLH Critical Care physicians Dipen Kadaria, M.D., and Amik Sodhi, M.D., will develop this treatment program for patients at MLH. People interested in donating convalescent plasma to help current COVID-19 patients must have had a prior, verified diagnosis of COVID-19, be symptom free and fully recovered for at least 14 days at the time of donation, and have a negative nasal swab test if recovery has been less than 28 days. The American Red Cross, Vitalant and other blood donation sites are supporting the nation-wide effort. Fully recovered COVID-19 patients should contact the American Red Cross or Vitalant for further instructions about donating plasma.