Now that many people have recovered from COVID-19, the Mayo Clinic has begun a large-scale national trial — the first of its kind — to transfer plasma from now-healthy people to the critically ill, and Augusta University Health is among those hospitals taking part.
In order to donate, “you have to have evidence that you had COVID-19, that you recovered from it and that you’ve been out for an appropriately long period of time,” according to Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious disease physician and professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Medical College of Georgia.
In the past, convalescent plasma had been used to fight against measles going back as far as the 1890s. Now, the theory is that those who have recovered from COVID-19 can help those who still have it. Thus far, the results have been encouraging.
“We initially enrolled eight patients and then subsequently another seven,” said MacArthur. “The first eight were all on a ventilator. Of the 15 total we enrolled that first week, only one patient died, which is pretty impressive. Previously, patients who required ventilation were in the 25-33 percent range (for survival).”
Some of the patients who received plasma donations were even sent home.
Each plasma donation can be used to help two critically ill COVID-19 patients. The first donation came from a student at the Medical College of Georgia who had since recovered. It was given to the first two patients in that initial trial.
“It’s not like we have an abundance of plasma but we’re doing all right with it,” said MacArthur. “We are encouraging anyone who has recovered to consider donating.”
Those who have recovered from COVID-19 can donate at one of three Shepeard Community Blood Centers in the Augusta area.