BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is planning to offer plasma from the donated blood of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to patients with severe cases.
The cancer hospital says the expanded access program has been authorized by the FDA and the Mayo Clinic is coordinating this effort. Roswell is participating with an expanded blood donation program so can collect blood and process it for plasma.
“Everything we know about COVID-19 is very recent and fast-moving, but there’s early evidence to suggest that this approach can be clinically beneficial for patients with severe COVID-19,” says Dr. Chen, Associate Professor of Oncology in Roswell Park’s Department of Medicine. “It’s basically a kind of passive immunization designed to bridge patients over until their own immune systems kick in and generate long-term antibodies against COVID-19.”
It’s called convalescent plasma. The word convalescent means a person who's recovering. Dr. Chen says China saw encouraging results in treating COVID patients. “Meaning their fevers went down, their respiratory symptoms decreased — many were able to come off the ventilators and get out of ICU,” Dr. Chen stated.
“This is actually a very old therapy — it's what used to be used before antibiotics and vaccines,” explained Dr. Chen.
Roswell Park is encouraging people who meet standard criteria for blood donation to assist with this effort.
Healthy people, who recovered from COVID-19 can go to Roswell's website to fill out a questionnaire to see if they’re eligible to donate.
Once potential donors meet the criteria, they will directly to Roswell Park's Blood Donation Center.
“Once the blood is collected it will be processed into plasma, that plasma will be packaged and then sent out to sites where there are patients who are actively ill with COVID-19, who will then go on to receive the plasma,” remarked Dr. Chen.
Dr. Chen says the plasma acts as a bridge for patients until their own immune system “kicks in”.
Roswell has set up a larger temporary donor area so it can practice social distancing rules for donors.
Maria Turner is marketing director at Roswell’s Blood & Platelet Donor Center. She says they've already received incredible reaction from donors.
“I've actually had some people break down in tears. They are just so moved by the fact that they can help someone who is ill now. They're grateful for this opportunity,” Turner declared.
Dr. Chen says COVID-19 can not be transmitted by blood.
If you're interested in donating you need to fill out this questionnaire.