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IU Health seeking plasma from COVID-19 survivors to help current patients

Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients could be the key to reducing the virus's mortality rate while speeding up the recovery process.

Posted: Apr 11, 2020 8:21 PM

INDIANA (WLFI) — Indiana University Health leaders are seeking plasma from COVID-19 survivors.

It could help reduce mortality and speed up the recovery process in current patients. The plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients provides an anti-body that can work as a healing agent if transferred to someone with the virus.

IU Health Transplant and Infectious Diseases Medical Director Dr. Nicolas Barros Baertl is confident it'll work. He said this same treatment saw success during the H1N1 and SARS outbreak.

Dr. Baertl said he's hoping this will help save lives while we wait for a vaccine.

"Even on the fastest way we can do it, it will take several months for us to get the (vaccine) results, so in the meantime, we are in dire need for medications that can be readily available for outpatients, and the use of this convalescent plasma is something that is readily available for us," said Baertl.

Any patient who's recovered from COVID-19 can donate anywhere from three to four units of plasma. Dr. Baertl said it only takes two units to help one regular-sized adult patient. 

"We could potentially help two different patients with COVID-19, so there is a sense of urgency because COVID-19 is already upon us, the peak is still to come," said Baertl. "If we can provide it, the sooner the better, the more lives we could potentially save."

He said this is an experiment, but there is little to no health risk for neither the donor nor the COVID-19 patient.

"We do not know if it will work but we do know that it is very safe for the donor and it's very safe for the recipients so the complications from using plasma are very, very small," said Baertl.

As of now, survivors must be recovered from COVID-19 for at least 28 days before being eligible to donate. Dr. Baertl said based on former studies, current patients could see their health improve within 24 to 48 hours of the plasma transfer.

If you're a recovered or recovering patient of COVID-19, you can find information on how to give plasma here

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Data is updated nightly.

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