As coronavirus or COVID-19 continues its spread across the globe, Versiti, a national leader in blood health innovation, has begun collecting plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients throughout Indiana to help treat those diagnosed with the virus.
This blood-related treatment, approved by the FDA as an emergency investigational new drug, could offer hope to the hundreds of patients who continue to be diagnosed. This treatment would be used by hospitals for the most severely affected patients.
Versiti, among the first in the U.S. to begin collecting convalescent plasma, is working with its partner hospitals to identify recovered patients. As per guidelines, hospitals must request FDA approval and work within the emergency investigational new drug guidelines, or other approved investigational new drug, to treat COVID-19 patients with plasma. Donors will be referred to Versiti through hospitals or the recovered patients’ physicians.
“The potential donors must first be proven to have had a COVID-19 diagnosis through a positive lab test result and must then have a negative test result 14 days after recovering from symptoms,” said Versiti Vice President of Transfusion Medicine Dr. Dan A. Waxman.
“It’s a very collaborative effort with our hospital partners who will be working to identify and verify donors.”
The donated plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients will be provided directly to the hospitals with whom Versiti is partnering. “Many of our hospital partners have already requested the donations,” Dr. Waxman said. “They are anxious to begin the program.”
The plasma treatment will transfer antibodies the recovered patient created into critically ill patients currently receiving care. Because of the investigational nature of this treatment, it is difficult to know just how many plasma infusions a COVID-19 patient may require, Dr. Waxman said.
Plasma donations, which take 30-40 minutes, will be collected at Versiti donor centers in Indiana and Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin. The donation process is the same as with other plasma donations and will be performed using an apheresis machine, which separates blood components.
Though blood group AB is the universal plasma donor, any blood type donor who has recovered from the virus is eligible to donate as part of the program.