Four of MemorialCare healthcare system’s Southland hospitals are participating in a program studying the potential medicinal benefits of using plasma from recovered COVID-19 victims on other critically ill coronavirus patients, officials said Thursday.
Dr. Emanuel Ferro, medical director of microbiology and molecular testing and blood bank at Long Beach Medical Center, said he saw a notification about a federal study of plasma at the Mayo Clinic from COVID-19 patients and approached MemorialCare administration about participating.
“They were very supportive of the whole thing and dedicated a lot of resources to get this off the ground,” Ferro said.
“The idea behind it is to give plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to people actively sick with it in an attempt to speed their recovery,” Ferro told City News Service. The theory is that antibodies in the plasma might help spur the immune systems of other patients to help defeat the virus.
So far, 17 patients have received plasma from recovered patients, Ferro said.
“I have heard of some preliminary, encouraging results, but there’s not enough data now to say” if it is a viable treatment, Ferro said.
MemorialCare, which has its own research division, had to pass an enrollment process with the government to get into the clinical trial study. Other scientists will take the data from MemorialCare doctors and analyze it to see if it is a viable treatment for COVID-19 patients.
MemorialCare doctors have reached out to patients at its hospitals in Long Beach, Fountain Valley and Laguna Hills to donate plasma, Ferro said.
“Right now, the plasma is not in very good supply,” so anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 is encouraged to contact the San Diego Blood Bank, which is helping to coordinate the program, Ferro said.
Anyone who has recovered from coronavirus is asked to visit the blood bank’s website at www.sandiegoblodbank.org/covid-19-and-convalescent-plasma-donation.
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