Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian officials Wednesday asked patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma so the antibodies could be used to help critically ill patients.
The use of plasma has been done to help patients recover from the Ebola virus, so Hoag jumped at the chance to join a study using plasma on intensive care unit patients, said Dr. Arell Shapiro, who is in charge of transfusions and lab medicine at the hospital.
“We’ve treated 58 patients with over 100 units of convalescent plasma,” Shapiro told City News Service. “We don’t yet know the efficacy of how well the plasma has affected the patients’ outcome, but we think it’s having a good effect on the outcome. The problem is we don’t have data from the study analyzed yet.”
Preliminary information on its effectiveness is positive, Shapiro said.
“I have been told by our critical care doctors that the patients who have received convalescent plasma have improved,” Shapiro said. “They’re very enthusiastic about patients who are very sick, so we’re hoping that we can get more donations.”
The hospital has received plasma donations from 249 recovered patients.
Shapiro said donors should expect donating plasma will be like giving blood. A machine separates out the plasma, she added.
The way it works, a donation from one person can help two to three patients, Shapiro said.
Recovered COVID-19 patients who want to donate need to be fully recovered and symptom-free for at least two weeks and be in otherwise good health, Shapiro said.
The plasma is greatly needed, especially as Orange County has seen a surge in coronavirus cases, particularly among young adults, Shapiro said.
“I’m seeing a lot of younger patients in their 20s, who are in the ICU,” Shapiro said.
Information on donating plasma at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian is available at hoag.org./COVID.